February 04, 2011, 9:18 PM — Branches of the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations are launching on Friday the 2011 Develop for Privacy Challenge, a competition for mobile application developers to address privacy concerns about mobile phones and other portable devices.
The contest is intended to encourage developers to build open source tools that help mobile device users understand and address privacy threats. "We created the Develop for Privacy Challenge to call upon application developers to show that privacy doesn't need to be an afterthought in new technologies," said Brian Alseth, technology and liberty director at the ACLU of Washington, in a statement. "Rather, privacy can and should be a fundamental building block."
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Contest submissions will be received at the Develop for Privacy website until May 31, 2011. A contest winner will be announced in August at an event in Las Vegas coinciding with Defcon and Black Hat security conferences. Whoever makes the best overall submission will be given the opportunity to discuss the application with the audience and judges at the ceremony. The winning submission will be promoted by the partner organizations for maximum distribution, use, and impact. There is currently no cash prize specificed, but organizers may provide additional awards or recognition at their discretion.
Contest sponsors stressed the changing nature of mobile communications and how privacy regulations have not kept abreast of the changes. By the end of this year, the majority of phones sold in the U.S. likely will be smartphones that allow users to pull up maps, browse the Internet, check email and allow other uses, sponsors of the competition said. Already, about 50 million Americans carry these devices.