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How to Write a Strong Mobile App Privacy Policy

Before you start promoting your mobile app, you need to make sure that all your ducks in a row. You’ll want to start with technical testing, and to have a strong mobile app analytics platform up and running. You’ll also want to have a strong mobile app privacy policy in place.

A mobile app privacy policy is a legally binding agreement that outlines how a mobile app will collect, use, store, and share user data. The policy may be a regulatory requirement under several data or privacy laws, but it’s also something that many customers look for when considering which apps to use.

To both protect your business and the customer, knowing how to write a strong mobile app privacy policy is critical, so we talked to expert Karen Walsh about how to do exactly that.

Karen is a lawyer and former internal auditor turned subject matter expert in cybersecurity and privacy regulatory compliance. Her consulting and content services for cybersecurity startups translate technology features into business-oriented and compliance solutions. Author of Security-First Compliance for Small Businesses, Karen is a CMMC Registered Practitioner who has been published in the ISACA Journal, Dark Reading, HelpNet Security, NextGov, and Security Magazine.

Why Mobile App Privacy Policies Matter to Customers

A 2019 Pew Research study found that only 9% of Americans surveyed say they always read a company’s privacy policy, with 13% more saying they do regularly.

This means that only a small segment of customers are actually reading the privacy policy, but for those that do, it absolutely matters. And even for those who don’t — they’ll likely still notice if you don’t have one.

And there’s a good reason for customers to care a great deal, as mobile apps have the potential to collect a significant amount of information.

This information should be transparent and easy to read, in plain language as opposed to highly technical writing that’s difficult to decipher.

Why Mobile App Privacy Policies Are Important to App Developers & Businesses

Just as mobile app privacy policies matter to customers, they also matter a great deal to businesses and app developers.

Considerations When Taking Your App to International Audiences

Many app developers first focus on launching a mobile app in a specific country, making it easy to abide by local or regional regulations. As you shift to a larger and potentially international audience, however, your privacy policy needs to account to that.

While reading up on the above policies is a good place to start, if you’re unsure, it’s often worthwhile to consult with a lawyer with expertise in privacy policies.

Important Privacy Policy Clauses for Mobile Apps

If you’ve ever read a mobile app privacy policy (and we recommend that you do!), you’ll likely notice that there are often plenty of different clauses involved that break down different aspects of the policy itself.

Walsh recommends that all companies include the following clauses in their privacy policies to cover rights users should have over their data:

We also recommend including clauses that detail what data you collect, how you collect it, how long you keep it, and what you do with it.

What Privacy Policies Are Users Most Likely to Look For?

While some clauses may be particularly valuable to businesses, there are some that users might value most.

Here’s what Walsh said:

We’ve seen data privacy become an increasing concern in recent years. A 2023 Deloitte study showed that only 38% of users trust businesses to protect their data more than they did in the year prior, and only 34% believe that companies are transparent about data use. Having clear policies in place specifically around data sharing can go a long way to build user trust through transparency.

Common Privacy Policy Mistakes

Privacy statements for mobile apps are not just a technicality; they are legally-binding contracts, so they should be created with great care.

When asked about common mistakes many businesses make when it comes to mobile app privacy policies, this is what Walsh shared:

Who to Consult With When Creating Privacy Policies

Because privacy policies are so important, it’s critical to ensure that you’re consulting the right teams and experts when creating yours.

And in many cases, as Walsh explained, that may involve working with multiple internal and potentially (if needed) external team member:

If you don’t have someone on your team with the experience to confidently manage the legal aspects of a privacy policy, we recommend seeking an external consultant with the experience and qualifications to help.

What Companies Can Do to Appeal to More Users

We’ve already discussed that tech-savvy users in particular are looking to see how businesses share their data. This is a concern that many users have — even if they aren’t necessarily reading the privacy policies themselves.

In addition to transparency around data collection and sharing, Walsh shared that users may also prefer brands who limit data collection where possible:

Final Thoughts

Mobile app privacy policies often involve multiple teams within an organization, including legal, marketing, developers, and cybersecurity or IT experts. Even with a solid chunk of users not reading them, you should still ensure that your policy is transparent, detailing data collection and sharing practices.

And, as your mobile app changes over time, or as new regulations roll out, review your privacy policy and update it as needed to ensure that you’re in compliance with new legal requirements.

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