Markey Releases Discussion Draft of Mobile Device Privacy Act in Wake of Carrier IQ Software Concerns

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Consumers may have no idea that through monitoring software their mobile devices are transmitting personal information, including who is called and what is typed in text messages, to third parties, including companies such as Carrier IQ.  The presence of this type of monitoring software on mobile devices should be disclosed to consumers, says Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-Chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus. Which is why today, Rep. Markey released a discussion draft of "The Mobile Device Privacy Act," legislation that would require companies to disclose to consumers the capability to monitor telephone usage, as well as require express consent of the consumer prior to monitoring. News broke last month that Carrier IQ software installed on millions of smart phones and mobile devices can track every keystroke of users and send the information back to the software company without user knowledge or permission.
 
"Consumers have the right to know and to say no to the presence of software on their mobile devices that can collect and transmit their personal and sensitive information," said Rep. Markey, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and former chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.  
 
"While consumers rely on their phones, their phones relay all sorts of information about them, often without their knowledge or consent.  I am concerned about the threat to consumers' privacy posed by electronic monitoring software on mobile phones, such as the software developed by Carrier IQ. Today I am releasing draft legislation to provide greater transparency into the transmission of consumers' personal information and empower consumers to say no to such transmission.  This is especially important for parents of children and teens. I look forward to working with stakeholders on my legislation and collaborating with my colleagues prior to the formal introduction of the final legislation." 
 
A copy of the discussion draft can be found HERE.
 
The "Mobile Device Privacy Act" would protect consumers by requiring:
 
·         Disclosure of mobile telephone monitoring software, including when a consumer buys a mobile phone; after sale, if the carrier, manufacturer, or operating system later installs monitoring software; and if a consumer downloads an app and that app contains monitoring software.
 
·         Disclosure to include the fact that the monitoring software has been installed on the phone, the types of information that are collected, the identity of the third party to which the information is transmitted, and how such information will be used.
 
·         Consumer consent be obtained before monitoring software begins collecting and transmitting information.
 
·         Third party receiving the personal information must have policies in place to secure the information.
 
·         Agreements on transmission to third parties must be filed at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
 
·         Outline an enforcement regime for the FTC and FCC, along with State Attorney General enforcement and a private right of action.
 
Last month, Rep. Markey asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the practices of the Carrier IQ software company as a possible unfair or deceptive act or practice. Carriers such as Sprint Nextel have disabled the Carrier IQ software from mobile devices on its network due to public concerns.
 
Rep. Markey has been the Congressional leader on providing privacy protections for personal consumer information. The lawmaker has investigated the data privacy and security practices of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and the four major wireless carriers and the Social Security Administration.