On July 12, 2012, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) of the U.S. Department of Commerce convened the first meeting of its multistakeholder process to develop industry codes of conduct. As we reported in June, the stated purpose for this meeting, entitled “Seeking Common Ground Regarding Mobile Application Transparency,” was to establish “a working dialogue that will eventually lead to a code of conduct that is broadly adopted.” Lawrence Strickling, Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, opened the session, which he characterized as an effort to highlight the key issues and explore topics to be addressed. Strickling emphasized that the structure and approach to the work would likely differ from that with which participants were familiar, and that it would be important to arrive at a constructive process that encourages collaboration and open engagement.

Marc Paul Chinoy, Founder and President of The Regis Group, Inc. and the facilitator enlisted by NTIA to lead the process, walked the attendees through an exercise to identify substantive issues related to transparency for mobile applications and to begin to set priorities about which topics to address early in the process and which could be dealt with later. He noted that existing industry codes of conduct for mobile applications could provide a starting point for the development of industry-wide best practices. He also worked with participants to surface the characteristics of a policymaking process that participants believed were important to yield useful, trusted outcomes. Approximately 200 stakeholders attended the event in person; others participated remotely by taking advantage of the interactive online capability made available by NTIA.

In closing the meeting, NTIA emphasized its desire to serve strictly as a facilitator of the process, and to ensure transparency and inclusion. NTIA announced that a second meeting would be held sometime this August, and encouraged participants to hold smaller meetings in the interim to explore specific issues and begin developing proposals to bring to the discussion.