Mobile app development has soared since the inception of smartphones. Developers of mobile apps must adhere to a number of legal obligations when they publish their app. This article details the essential legal documents that all mobile apps need.

Privacy Policy for Mobile Apps

All mobile apps should have a comprehensive privacy policy drafted in agreement with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). A privacy policy tells consumers what personal information an organisation collects, how they store it and under what circumstances they disclose it. In the case of mobile apps, the relevant organisation is the commercial enterprise who markets and profits from the mobile app. Data security is becoming an increasingly important consumer issue as individuals seek to know how organisations use and safeguard their personal data.

The Australian Privacy Principles requires only certain organisations (APP entities) to have a Privacy Policy. These typically include organisations with an annual turnover of over $3 million. However, some organisations must comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (and thus the APP) even if their annual turnover is less than $3 million. These include businesses that sell or purchase personal information. If your mobile app uses personal information to sell advertising, it is required to have a comprehensive privacy policy. Further, if your app is used for direct marketing, it must also comply with APP 7. Having a privacy policy might also assist sales. Individuals may be more inclined to purchase and use a mobile app if they know how the app uses their personal data.

The APP requires all privacy policies to be clear, up to date and easy to locate. They should include information about:

  • The type of information that an entity collects and stores;
  • How it gathers information and stores it;
  • How an individual can access their information or correct it;
  • The reasons why the entity collects and stores data;
  • How it uses and discloses the information;
  • How an individual can complain about a breach of the APP and how the organisation handles such complaints; and
  • Whether the organisation discloses the information to foreign recipients. If yes, where these recipients are located.

Terms of Use for Mobile Apps

All mobile apps need a Terms of Use. A Terms of Use is a legal agreement made between the marketer of the app and the user of it. The marketer of the app requires such an agreement to protect their business and themselves.

The Terms of Use of a mobile app should be clear and accessible. It should include information about:

  • The services that the app provides;
  • Outline the purpose and conditions attached to using the app;
  • Expressly protect all the intellectual property in the app;
  • Have an indemnity clause and a provision limiting liability; and
  • Have warranty disclaimers limiting your risk if the app does not operate correctly or if a user employs it incorrectly.

Importantly, the developers and marketers of mobile apps should not rely on the Terms and Conditions of an app store. These typically indemnify the store if users are dissatisfied with your app or experience problems with it. As such, they do not protect the enterprise marketing the mobile app. As developing and marketing an app is such a lengthy process, all such businesses need a specific Terms of Use to protect their efforts.


LegalVision has drafted mobile app legal documents for a number of developers. Call LegalVision today on 1300 544 755 or fill in the form below.

Carole Hemingway
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