Lookout encourages a healthy mobile ecosystem with app privacy standards for ad networks, ad exchanges, app developers and other mobile industry stakeholders
SAN FRANCISCO - Lookout, the leading mobile security company, announced its Mobile App Advertising Guidelines: A Framework for Encouraging Innovation While Protecting Privacy. The Mobile App Advertising Guidelines provide a framework to help app developers and ad providers – such as ad networks and ad exchanges – understand how they can explore new ad display techniques and access personal information while adhering to strong mobile privacy and user choice principles. By equipping mobile advertisers and developers with clear privacy and user experience guidelines, Lookout aims to enable growth and innovation in mobile advertising, while protecting user privacy and increasing the trustworthiness of ads.
“Mobile has become the dominant computing platform in an incredibly short amount of time, changing the lives of people around the world and creating a booming economy for businesses and app developers. In order for these great benefits to continue, everyone in the mobile ecosystem must respect individual privacy choices and hold user experience in the highest regard,” said Kevin Mahaffey, CTO and co-founder, Lookout.
A number of mobile ad providers have adopted aggressive behavior over the last year, including pushing out-of-app ads, changing browser and desktop settings, and accessing personally identifiable information without suitable notification or transparency. Based on Lookout’s analysis, more than five percent of free apps have included aggressive ad networks, affecting millions of people.
“People want to have confidence and trust that they’re not being compromised while on devices that have access to their most personal information,” said Jules Polonetsky, Director and Co-Chair of the Future of Privacy Forum. “For many years, desktop users were plagued with programs that triggered pop-ups, added unwanted toolbars, and changed homepages. These guidelines make it clear, while mobile marketing business models and practices are still developing, some practices are out-of-bounds. That’s good news for both consumers and responsible businesses.”
The Guidelines cover requirements and suggested best practices in the following areas: transparency and clarity of data collection; individual control over information collected; ad delivery and display behavior; collection and retention of personal or device-specific data; and secure transport of sensitive data.
These guidelines include the following requirements for ad providers:
- Provide comprehensive, readable privacy policies and related FAQs to their app publishing partners, making educated integration easier for app developers.
- Provide a conspicuous opt-in or opt-out for users within the mobile app if the ad network intends to access personal information like phone number, email, and name.
- Provide clear attribution to the host application for ads that appear out-of-app. In addition, ad providers that modify browser settings or add an icon to the mobile desktop must provide a readily available and actionable opt-in / opt-out mechanism to users before such behavior is triggered.
- Move away from using permanent, unchangeable device identifiers and move towards using independent and/or temporal device identifiers that provide the same level of functionality with respect to targeted advertising.
- Do not collect device identifiers that are tied to mobile subscriber identities, unless the collection of such identifiers enables a demonstrable feature or service for the user.
- Securely transport personal information, including device identifier data and personal information.
The complete Mobile App Advertising Guidelines are available on the Lookout website.
Mobile advertising is critical to a free app ecosystem and fuels revenue for app developers, but currently the boundaries are unclear around how apps and advertisements must treat the end-user’s personal information and appropriately display out-of-app advertisements. As a result, individuals’ privacy can be violated and their mobile experience is disrupted with aggressive ads. By setting clear distinctions around absolute requirements and recommended requirements, Lookout’s Mobile App Advertising Guidelines bring clarity and prioritization to mobile ad privacy behavior. The Guidelines also provide the industry with means to self-regulate in regards to privacy best practices.
Lookout is a mobile security company dedicated to making the mobile experience safe for everyone. Lookout delivers award-winning protection from the growing threats facing mobile users today, including malware, phishing, privacy violations, data loss, and loss of the phone itself. Cross-platform, Lookout is designed from the ground up to provide advanced mobile protection while remaining lightweight and efficient on the phone. With 20 million users across 400 mobile networks in 170 countries, Lookout is the world leader in smartphone security. Headquartered in San Francisco, Lookout is funded by Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Trilogy Equity Partners. For more information and to download Lookout, please visit mylookout.com