Application Developers Alliance

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Public Policy: Goals and Principles

To promote the interests of developers as innovators and the continued growth of the app industry, the Application Developers Alliance advocates on issues of public policy, including proposed legislation and regulation, and in important court cases.

  • We educate elected officials and government offices about the app industry and app developers, including their positive economic impact nationally and locally.
  • We inform Alliance members about legal and legislative issues that may affect their business and their opportunities to innovate and grow.
  • We encourage action in favor of or in opposition to policy outcomes that could impact developers and the app economy.

Public Policy Principles:

Developers should have the freedom to focus on innovating and creating great apps that improve peoples’ lives, and in doing so to help expand the economy and create good jobs. Accordingly, the App Developers Alliance identifies and responds to public policy proposals based on our members’ analysis of the following foundational principles:

  1. Does the proposal support innovation?
  2. Does the proposal discriminate against the app economy?
  3. Does the proposal encourage competition, openness and opportunity?
In support of our members, the Alliance focuses on issues that are relevant across the industry, and on issues of interest to particular business verticals, e.g., kids privacy or health apps. The Alliance is currently focused on the following issues: 
 

Data Privacy & Security

Patents

Mobile and In-App Commerce

Medical, Health, Wellness and Therapy Applications

Spectrum and Bandwidth

 

Data Privacy & Security

Developers will succeed only if consumers trust that the apps they enjoy are not secretly abusing their personal information. Apps shouldn’t be singled out, but along with our industry partners – platforms, carriers and manufacturers – developers must be mindful of consumer choice and data security, and must collaborate to ensure that consumers have clear notice of what data is being collected, how the data is used, and how it is secured. 

To promote data practices that build consumer trust, the Alliance is:

  • Educating developers about the benefits of adopting consumer-friendly privacy practices and informing consumers with clear and comprehensible privacy policies.  
  • Connecting with partner industries and their associations to ensure that developer interests are represented when “best practices” and “industry guidelines” are considered.
  • Educating public officials about:

Patents

The patent system imposes significant risk and cost on developers who face threats from patent trolls. Many of the asserted patents are trivial, vague and overbroad. Often, they describe inventions that are very different from the accused products.

At the same time, patents provide almost no protection to developers because short life cycles make products obsolete before a patent can issue. On top of that, the ongoing smartphone patent war, much of it based on questionable software patents, threatens to harm developers as innocent bystanders if platforms are removed from the market or if platform innovation is inhibited.

To reduce the unreasonable risks that software patents pose to app developers, the Alliance recommends:

  • Establishing a fast and inexpensive procedure for challenging invalid patents;
  • Raising the bar for granting software patents, and narrowing their scope so that they only cover what the inventor truly invented;
  • Requiring that the scope and boundaries of software patents be clear and unambiguous;
  • Allowing prior user rights to protect developers that create a product before a patent is filed;
  • Requiring trolls that lose patent suits to pay legal fees.

Patent Reform Information Hub

Mobile and In-App Commerce

As facilitators of commerce – both real and virtual – apps and mobile devices are creating exciting commercial opportunities and may also be extraordinary means of extending financial services to traditionally underserved communities. Public officials who monitor banking, commerce and credit cards are now paying attention to mobile and in-app commerce, and are considering whether existing laws adequately protect consumers or whether new laws are needed.

To educate public officials and stakeholders and help ensure that legislative and policy proposals promote innovation, the Alliance will:

  • Document the growth of mobile and in-app payments, and the opportunities to reduce financial intermediaries and lower costs for consumers.
  • Convene industry leaders to promote safety and security best practices and to educate new market entrants.

Medical, Health, Wellness and Therapeutic Apps

Often working in partnership with medical professionals, developers have created thousands of apps that promote general health and wellness, analyze medical symptoms, and improve both clinical outcomes and research results. These apps have the potential to dramatically improve our health and lower costs. On behalf of medical and health app developers the Alliance will:

  • Encourage balanced regulation and private sector standards that ensure patient safety and app efficacy while also promoting innovation, competition and marketplace adoption.  
  • Work with food and drug regulators across the globe to clearly and thoughtfully define when apps are (and are not) "medical devices."

Spectrum and Bandwidth

Apps are more valuable when bandwidth is accessible and affordable. Thus, it is critically important that spectrum be allocated – in the United States and globally – to maximize efficiency and consumer benefit. 

To promote the availability of robust bandwidth that connects consumers universally, the Alliance will:

  • Support spectrum allocation that promotes commercial efficiency, competition and consumers;
  • Support balanced spectrum policy that allows sufficient breathing room for unlicensed uses, thereby promoting low-cost innovation in the mobile space; and 
  • Support adoption of innovative technologies, including spectrum-sharing, that allow more efficient use of spectrum among all users and potentially eliminates concerns about spectrum capacity and limitations.