On May 6, 2014, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced the Global Privacy Enforcement Network’s (“GPEN’s”) second annual enforcement sweep. The sweep will focus on mobile app privacy and how mobile apps collect and use personal data.

From May 12 to 18, 2014, GPEN member authorities “will be looking at the types of permissions an app is seeking, whether those permissions exceed what would be expected based on the app’s functionality, and most importantly from a transparency perspective, how the app explains to consumers why it wants the personal information and what it will do with it.” Any problems identified during the sweep will result in follow-up enforcement actions and other outreach to address the affected apps.

GPEN is an international network of more than 40 privacy enforcement authorities, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Its mission includes connecting privacy authorities around the world to facilitate international privacy enforcement cooperation and coordination. GPEN conducted its first annual enforcement sweep in 2013, focusing on online transparency regarding organizations’ privacy practices. It is noteworthy that participation in the annual GPEN enforcement sweep increased from 19 authorities last year to 27 authorities this year.

Coinciding with GPEN’s enforcement sweep, on May 8, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission announced a proposed settlement with Snapchat, Inc. stemming from allegations that the company misrepresented its privacy and security practices in its privacy policy, including how Snapchat’s mobile app worked.