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The 5 Most Important Terms in Your App Privacy Policy

App privacy policy doesn't need to be complicated, but you need to know how to protect your company.

App legal issues don’t need to be complicated, but you need to know how to protect your company.

– This is a guest post by Aaron George, fellow app developer and founder of LawKick –

You’ve probably heard all the buzz about privacy issues online these days. The rise of the Internet, and especially of mobile devices, has connected people like never before and allowed people to interact in new ways and broadcast their lives to millions of people around the world. That’s why privacy has become such a big concern lately.

As an indie app developer, you may not be aware of how these privacy issues affect your apps, but you should be. In fact, you might actually be required by law to have a privacy policy. And even if not technically required, you still might be exposing yourself to fines and penalties if you don’t.

At this point you’re probably wondering, what exactly does a privacy policy for an app look like? This post lays out the 5 most important terms in a privacy policy for an app.


1. What Information is Collected

The purpose of a privacy policy is really about creating transparency between the provider of an app or internet based service and the users. The law wants to prevent any shady practices by companies who are collecting information from users for illegitimate purposes.

A privacy policy is basically the company’s statement about what rights they have, and what rights the user has regarding information collection and privacy. So the first thing you must share in your privacy policy is what information you collect from users when they are using your app. This can be broken down into two main categories: personally identifiable information (PII) and non-PII.

Examples of PII:

  • Name

  • Birthday

  • Sex

  • Email

  • Phone

  • Location/Address

  • Billing Info

  • UDID (unique device identifier)

Examples of non-PII:

  • IP Address

  • Operating System

  • Referring Source

  • Mobile Carrier

  • Interactions with the App or Service (pages visited, links clicked, other actions)

Your privacy policy should disclose all relevant types of information that are collected during use of your app.


2. How the Information is Used

The next key term in an app privacy policy is how the information is used. For each item of information that your app collects, you should explicitly state what you or your company does with that information.

If you don’t have any server side databases and you don’t have sign up forms or use Facebook Connect, and your users can just pick up the app and start using it, you may not be collecting any information at all. This is often the case for simple games, e.g. Flappy Bird.

However, most developers like to use analytics to analyze how users interact with an app. This is what helps you iterate and make improvements over time. If you use any analytics service like MixPanel, Flurry, etc. you are collecting usage info from your users, and this would be something you should disclose in your privacy policy.

Oftentimes, the information collection and information use terms are combined into one long provision in the privacy policy. For example, see Twitter’s privacy policy for a good example. They break it down by listing each type of information collected, and then below it explaining how they use that information.


3. Information Disclosure and Sharing Policies

The real concern about sharing and disclosure of information deals with PII. People generally are uncomfortable with any company that is reselling their personal information for a profit, or otherwise sharing it without their knowledge or permission.

For the average indie app developer, PII disclosure and sharing may not be much of an issue. Chances are you are not collecting and selling or disclosing personal information from your users. If you are, you absolutely must state this in your privacy policy.

Your apps would be sharing or disclosing information with third party services such as analytics services or outside service providers that you may work with. This is rarely PII, but it still needs to be disclosed.


4. The App Privacy Policy Relating to Children Under Age 13

Be particularly careful about this one because there are serious legal issues and penalties if you are collecting PII from children under the age of 13, even if it happens unknowingly. Non-PII is ok to collect.

You may notice that internet services like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn, etc. don’t even let you sign up unless you’re 13 or older, and this is why. The law is very concerned about predators preying on children via any interactive websites or apps.

Do not collect PII if you develop kids’ apps! The only way to legally do so is to comply with the COPPA requirements, which are extremely difficult to meet (that’s why even Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are unwilling allow users under 13).

If your app would be likely to attract children for any reason at all, and you collect PII from users, you need to take steps to prevent children from using the app. The best way to do so is to use Facebook or a similar authentication service, because they already require users to be 13 or older for you.

If you are developing games, this issue can be especially problematic because games inherently attract children. If you collect PII, make sure your privacy policy clearly states that your app is not intended for users under age 13, and when users sign up you should ask them to input their birthday and deny access to any children that try to sign up.

Trust me. You do not want to face a $50,000 penalty like these guys did.


5. How Users Can Update Their Info or Ask Questions, and How the App Privacy Policy is Updated

Lastly, because privacy policies are all about transparency, it’s important to inform your users about how and when the privacy policy is updated and how they can ask questions or update their information.

Users should have the ability to edit or remove their PII from any web service or app. You should let them know exactly how they may do so in your privacy policy.

Also, provide an email address for them to contact you in the case of questions or concerns. And finally, you should let them know that the privacy policy may change from time to time and if it does, how you will inform them about the changes.


Yes, these privacy issues are kind of a headache to deal with. But it’s really important to be aware of them, especially if your app company is growing and you’re gaining more and more users. When you grow, the natural tendency becomes to collect more data and use it to your advantage, and that’s where privacy concerns might arise.

You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to draft your privacy policy, but it’s often a good idea. You can do draft one yourself with enough research. Just be cautious and look at a bunch of privacy policies from related companies to get ideas about what issues you might be facing.

If you have questions or concerns about potential privacy issues within your app, it’s best to consult with a lawyer that works in the internet privacy field as soon as possible. You do not want to pay the price down the road for a privacy violation that could’ve been dealt with early on.

Aaron George is an entrepreneur with a background in app development and law. He’s also an active blogger and the co-founder of LawKick. LawKick is a platform enabling people to connect with lawyers online and get price quotes for free. Make sure to check out Aaron’s previous post, Top 5 Legal Issues Facing App Developers. Connect with Aaron here:

Who’s the Boss? How to Leverage Technology to Take Back Your Life

I got 99 problems...and my cell phone is probably one.

I got 99 problems…and my cell phone is probably one.

We recently talked about how distracting technology can be to your productivity and goals. In an age, when everyone can be immediately reached at the tap of a button, distractions are at an all-time high and our attention span is at an all-time low.

But there’s always two sides to every story, and we should give technology its chance to defend itself, right?

Technology is the double-edged sword prevalent in everyone’s life. It’s had an effect on every aspect of our culture: relationships, career, opportunity, well-being. It’s touched almost every part of the world in both the negative (I’m looking at you, selfie sticks…) and positive (access and opportunity to some of the poorest nations).

Welcome to 21st century problems! How do we find a balance between being connected and being a walking computer?

It’s all about slowly integrating solutions, even if it’s as simple as committing to one hour each day completely unplugged and only reachable by face-to-face contact…or carrier pidgeon.

Part of mastering that balance is learning how to leverage technology properly, not just how to avoid it. It’s taking technology and showing it who’s boss!

“I own you, you don’t own me, fool!” You tell ‘em….

read more…

How to Create “To Do” Lists that Actually Get Done


Get rid of traditional “to-do” lists…

For those of you on our weekly email list, you know I’ve dubbed this month, Get Sh*t Done month. For those just tuning in, welcome to the party! My goal is to give you the strategies and systems I’ve found the most helpful so you can build your own plan. Think of this information as a mix-and-match assortment.

But “GSD” month isn’t just about getting more done, it’s actually about creating and implementing a custom-tailored plan for you to have your most productive and successful year yet. Notice the emphasis on “plan.” These aren’t just tips and tricks to throw into your schedule, they’re actionable lessons you need to sit down, write out, and execute. The former part being the hardest of all because we all know bad habits die hard, and good habits grow slow.

We recently talked about how I schedule my day based on a “chunking” method to create the path of least resistance. Resistance = the distractions of every day life. Technology has become a blessing and curse to our productivity. It’s given us some incredible tools to be more organized and efficient, but has also given us the attention span of a fish when it’s time to check those tasks off our list.

Have you ever taken the time to see how many times you are interrupted during a task or how many times your attention gets pulled to something else? It’s an eye-opening experience that I recommend you all try. For one day, after you’ve setup your “to-do’s” and tasks, monitor how many times you check Facebook, answer your cell phone, read an article, check email, or accidentally start working on another task before finishing your last.

You might say: “But someone from work called me so that doesn’t count!” or “I was reading an article on marketing so it actually is beneficial.” But in reality, most interruptions or distractions are NOT urgent. With hyper-access to everyone at all times, we are trained to respond immediately. This kills momentum.

It’s one thing to take a break every hour or two, it’s another to constantly break for whoever is pulling on your shirt – whether that’s a co-worker or a click-bait headline (Here’s What Happened When Corgi Puppies Meet a Baby Tiger! – I know you wanted that to be an article link, I’m sorry.).

You can try turning off your phone, signing-up for a social media blocker, or checking email during designated times like we talked about in our last blog, but what I’ve found most useful in eliminating the pull of distractions is being extremely clear on what your missions are for the day. It’s not just about writing down what you want to get accomplished, it’s about visualizing these tasks, and organizing them in a simple, strategic manner so all you have to do is look at your agenda and re-focus on your mission because you eliminated alternatives. Let me show you…

read more…

7 Steps to Extreme Productivity Planning

Mr. Productivity in action...

Mr. Productivity in action…

Every year one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to be more productive. While it’s truly a great resolution, the road to extreme productivity is bumpy, winding, and with constant detours. Everyone starts out their year getting so much done, hitting the gym every day, turning in projects early, creativity at an all time high…and within a month it all falls back into your old routine.

Why isn’t anyone actually making productivity stick?! And if we can’t be productive…what hope do our other goals have?

The truth is, this is a struggle that pretty much everyone encounters - and that many of us battle constantly. We end up frustrated, or even worse, we try to make up for the poor production by grinding out extra hours, and ultimately sacrificing even more of the most precious resource we have: time.

Yup – it’s all too true for so many of us – and the fact is, once time is gone, you can’t get it back.

Ultimately, we’re all seeking total time freedom – the means to do whatever we want with our time – which is why, as entrepreneurs, we try to create a business that provides that financial and time freedom in the first place.

But it takes hard work to get to a point where you have both of those things. This doesn’t mean however, that you have to grind out weeks or months of 18 hour workdays and lose out on life in the process. You can have both, now.

The bad news: You will always have to work on your productivity (it’s part of working on your systems and improving yourself every year).

The good news: Once you get a system down, this is your foundation to build upon and takes a whole lot less work from here on out to keep improving yourself.

Before we go into the 7 steps for extreme productivity, the pre-step to productivity scheduling is narrowing down your goals. What do you want to accomplish this week? This month? This year? Then create a list of actionable steps that lead you to each goal.

For example, say you want to run a marathon in September. One action step might be to run 3 miles every day for 3 weeks. The next action step might be to run farther or increase pace. Basically, you want each goal to have 4-5 action steps to it.

Once you’ve figured out what you need to do to accomplish your goals – it’s time to implement these 7 powerful methods that have proven successful for many (myself included):

read more…

5 Factors to Sell Your App Company for the Highest Offer

sell app company

I’m a huge advocate of planning. Whether for your personal life or your business, you need to have a vision for 3 months, 6 months, and even 2+ years down the road. Not only is this beneficial to your moral and motivation, it’s an important step for handling all the possible curve balls life throws at you.

For example, I never built my first app business thinking I was going to sell it. Let alone go on to sell two more! And since I hadn’t planned for the possibilities, I had a HUGE mess to deal with when I realized that selling my app business was a great option for me – and extremely lucrative!

Funny (more like cringe-worthy) thing is even though I sold my app company for a lot of money, I completely missed out on additional revenue because I hadn’t set up my businesses as thoroughly as a buyer would want.

So now the FIRST thing I tell people when they want to build their own app empires - build your business with the end in mind

No, I don’t mean the end of the world and I definitely don’t mean the end of your app career. I mean with the goal of selling your app company or portfolio even if you don’t plan on selling your app business.

There’s a lot more that goes into appealing to buyers than having great revenue or downloads. Buyers have certain qualifications and systems they look for in app portfolios, and if your company is lacking these elements, its value drops. Granted, the app market is extremely HOT right now for acquisitions so most people are able to sell their companies but do you want to sell it for a couple thousand or hundreds of thousands? I think we can all agree the latter sounds pretty amazing.

While there’s a lot to consider when selling your app business, I asked Eric Owens, my friend and app lawyer who helped me sell my own companies, to list out the 5 MOST important factors you should keep in mind to get the highest offer for your apps:

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Step-by-Step ASO – Get more downloads QUICKLY and CONSISTENTLY

What? Me, a freak?

What? Me, a freak?

Optimizing your apps is another way to talk about my favorite phrase, “tweak like a freak.” You won’t get millions of downloads upon launch (but then there’s those crazy stories of getting acquired in 30 days), which is why the most important time for your apps are the 1 – 3 months after launch. This is when you’ll be collecting the most data which will provide you with the best intel to tweak like a professional freak.

While apps may be small, there are a ton of little changes you can make to optimize your app in order to increase download and retention rate. Front-end changes such as screenshots, in-app graphics, and icons are critical, but also a little easier concept for people to grasp because they can see what they need to work on.

An equally important but more “mysterious” form of optimization is the always dreaded ASO (App Store Optimization). People really hate ASO, and I don’t blame them. Apple likes to frequently change its algorithm, so what worked last month, may not optimize your app the next month. This is the game we are all constantly playing, but a game worthy of our attention.

A common mistake I see people make is when they see their downloads dropping, they stop putting effort into optimizing. This will kill your business, period.

Today, I’ve brought in a special guest to unleash some of the questions most people have with ASO.

AE member, Justin Malik, has written an easy-to-follow, don’t-even-think-about-it keyword optimization game plan that you can follow step-by-step to make your ASO efforts easier.

Justin Mailk, MBA, left his full-time job to pursue app development in April 2013 and since has launched over 60 apps in the App Store and acquired nearly 750,000 downloads. (You may remember him from his AE success story here.) When not developing apps, he is blogging about the process on and binge-watching Netflix. (Aren’t we all?)

Enter Justin

ASO (App Store Optimization) is a gigantic topic fueled by debate, but I’m going to do my best to cut through the speculation and give you a step-by-step process of how to get downloads consistently and increase those downloads over time with keywords. When my partner and I first started developing apps in 2012, we had no clue what we were doing, and we picked keywords that just made sense to us. However, over time, we’ve come to realize the importance of it, especially as the number of apps entering the App Store continues to increase.

Our efforts have paid off; since we’ve started paying more attention to ASO, our metrics have improved. We’re quickly approaching a million downloads across our apps, and we’re seeing twice the retention as we target more appropriate keywords. In terms of revenue, an app that would normally make $10 a day for about 2 weeks and then die off will now make us over $10 per day for the life of the app. This change has helped us to create the profitable app business we’ve always wanted, and one that brings in six-figure yearly revenues. Doing our ASO homework has made all the difference, and I’m going to share with you exactly what we’ve learned along the way.

With respect to Android developers, I’m going to be focusing on the iOS App Store because first, it’s what I know best, and second, most people that enter the world of apps usually start with, or at least have some apps developed for, iOS. There is also a great deal of cross-over with the app stores.

This post is not comprehensive (the topic of ASO could easily fill a textbook), and I’m focusing on Keyword Optimization because that tends to be what we get the most questions about. Don’t get me wrong—icon, screen shots, and description are incredibly important in ASO—but I find keywords to be a little less straightforward and a bit more interesting. Some people argue that you shouldn’t spend too much time on keywords and that they get a good amount of downloads by spending only 10 minutes on it, but I would argue that their metrics would improve if they employed some ASO tactics.

If you’re an entrepreneur and not interested in developing apps, you should still listen up. You can use this information to help you research ad keywords for any business, or this can help improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your startup’s website. Many of the principles of ASO cross over to the world-wide web.

read more…