As part of the strategic rollout of its new App Center, Facebook wrote a letter (the “Letter”) [See the full letter from Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer] to California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris (“CA Attorney General”) agreeing to become a signatory to, and implement the privacy protections detailed under, the CA Attorney General’s Joint Statement of Principles (“Joint Statement”). The Joint Statement has already been signed and agreed to by six other technology giants including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. [See our prior blog post on the CA Attorney General’s Joint Statement of Principles]

In this context, Facebook will require all software applications (“Apps”) offered through the App Center to provide a clear link to its privacy policy. Third party App distributors will be able to utilize the Facebook App Center and its development tools to provide, and make discoverable by consumers, their mobile offerings. Given Facebook’s increasingly large user base and existing third party App infrastructure, the App Center is likely to have an impact of significance on the global mobile application marketplace.

California has served as a leader in bringing together large stakeholders in the software and mobile technology space to address fundamental issues surrounding consumer privacy protection as the proliferation of mobile and cloud computing continues. To that end, Facebook and others have agreed to comply with the California Attorney General’s interpretation of privacy requirements under current California law by implementing the Joint Statement’s goals of transparency, control and accountability. The Letter states privacy was an important strategic consideration as Facebook built the App Center, akin to privacy by design.

Although the Joint Statement may not apply to all businesses, mobile App providers in general should strategically reevaluate the transparency of their personal information collection practices and privacy policies since (i) conspicuous links to privacy policies at the time of purchase/installation may be interpreted as an affirmative obligation under the laws of other States (ii) CA and its robust tech community often serve as a thought leader providing legislation other states choose to implement and (iii) evidence exists that industry is taking a proactive approach to consumer privacy legal compliance including by working with State attorney generals.