Feb 232017
 
 February 23, 2017  Business, U.S.

Oops! I missed this when it was announced on February 9 by NYS Attorney General Schneiderman:

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced settlements with mobile application (“apps”) developers AB Mobile Apps LLC and Bizness Apps LLC for their failure to disclosure their data collection practices in a privacy policy.  Both companies have agreed to clearly inform users in a privacy policy about their policies and procedures with respect to user information, among other reforms.

“New Yorkers have a right to know if a company collects and uses their personal information,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “In an age where data itself has become a commodity, companies must post privacy policies in a way that clearly and conspicuously discloses their data collection practices.”

The purpose of a privacy policy is to inform users about what, if any, personal information is collected, used and disclosed in the use of a product or service. This information aids consumers in making informed decisions about companies with whom they entrust their personal information.

Both companies responded promptly to the NYAG investigation and added a privacy policy to its apps, or otherwise removed the apps from the Apple and Google platforms so that they are no longer available to download.

Both companies also agreed clearly inform users in a privacy policy about the policies and procedures with respect to user information for each of its apps. Such policies and procedures may be appropriate to the nature and scope of its activities and the sensitivity of the covered data, and make explicit, at a minimum, what user information is collected; how it is stored and for how long; whether it will be disclosed to third parties and under what circumstances; what safeguards are in place to protect the information from unauthorized disclosure; how updates to the privacy policy will be communicated to the customer; and whether the customer has the option to opt-out of the collection of the user information, or review, edit or delete the information.

The NYAG did not find that these developers misused their customers’ personal information or disclosed it to third parties.  However, failure to disclose how a company collects, uses and discloses customers’ personal information in a privacy policy is a deceptive trade practice, New York Executive Law § 63(12) and New York General Business Law § 349.

AB Mobile Apps, LLC

AB Mobile Apps, LLC (“AB Mobile”) is a Michigan limited liability company owned by Wendell Adams.  AB Mobile develops apps on its own, or at the request of clients, which can be downloaded for free on Apple iTunes App Store and/or the Google Play Android App Store.  The NYAG determined that the following AB Mobile apps lacked a privacy policy or any statement as to how AB Mobile collects, uses, or discloses a user’s personal information: “Ask a Lawyer: Legal Help,” “Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer,” “My Lawyer: Legal Advice,” “Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer,” “Insurance Help,” “Insurance Quotes and Questions,” “Trucker App & GPS for Truckers,” “Couple Counseling & Chatting,” “Teacher App & Grade Book,” “Chiropractic Help,” “Quit Smoking: Learn to Stop Smoking Today!,” “Stop Smoking: A free quit smoking program,” “Flowchart by Hapman,” “Deburring by CLM Vibetech,” “Buy Local,” “The Grotto at Capone’s,” “Home Design by Jacks,” “Home Improvement: Culver,” “AutoCare” (or, on the iTunes App Store, “com.absmallbusinessmarketing.autoCare”), “Pirates: The Pirate Game,” “Text Timer,” “Write Music by Stedman,” “Foreign Car Services,” “Falling Zombies,” “8 Bit Birds,” “Drink Mixer,” “Clear Messenger,” “Great Lakes Pondscapes,” “Traveler: Travel App & Helper,” and “Popcorn Popper!” Additionally, the NYAG determined that while apps “Recipes by Ingredients,” “Diet Plan(s),” and “Stock Screener: Stock Analyst” contained a hyperlink to a privacy policy, the policy failed to contain specific information as to what information is collected, used and disclosed.

Bizness Apps, Inc.

Bizness Apps, Inc. (“Bizness Apps “) is a California corporation owned by Andrew Gazdecki with a similar business to AB Mobile.  The NYAG determined that the following apps lacked a privacy policy or any statement as to how Bizness Apps collects, uses, or discloses a user’s personal information: “Seattle Pipeline,” “My Mechanic,” “Bizness Apps Preview App,” “Top Flight Elite Basketball,” “The Lost Friends,” “Tacolicious,” “Mobilize Reseller Conference,” “Mobile Lounge,” “Leslie Norman & Associates,” “Papa Fotis,” “El Burito Redlands,” and “Gutergrund-OPG8.” Another app, “Vacation Valley Cabin Rentals,” was available in two versions on Google/Android and only one version displayed a privacy policy.

This case was handled by Bureau of Internet and Technology Deputy Bureau Chief Clark Russell, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Kathleen McGee.  The Bureau of Internet and Technology is overseen by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha M. Sheth.

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