Lawmaker Markey unveils Mobile Device Privacy Act


Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) released a discussion draft of the proposed Mobile Device Privacy Act, which would require wireless operators and their partners to notify subscribers if they employ mobile analytics measurement tools like the controversial Carrier IQ.

The Mobile Device Privacy Act would require disclosure of mobile phone monitoring software when a consumer buys a new device; if the carrier, manufacturer or operating system later installs monitoring tools; and if a consumer downloads an app containing monitoring software. The act also calls for disclosure on the type of subscriber data that is collected, the identity of the third party to which the information is transmitted and how the info will be used.

The Mobile Device Privacy Act goes on to require that carriers and handset makers obtain consent before monitoring software begins collecting and transmitting information. In addition, third parties receiving personal data must institute policies to secure the information; agreements on transmission to third parties must be filed at the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. The act also proposes an enforcement regime for the FTC and FCC, along with State Attorney General enforcement and a private right of action.

"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," Markey--co-Chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus and former chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet--said in a statement. "While consumers rely on their phones, their phones relay all sorts of information about them, often without their knowledge or consent... 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."

The Mobile Device Privacy Act follows in the wake of allegations made late last year by security researcher Trevor Eckhart, who claimed Carrier IQ secretly recorded user behaviors across more than 140 million mobile handsets. Carrier IQ has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that its services count and measure operational information and do not record keystrokes or provide tracking tools. In addition to four lawsuits alleging Carrier IQ's software violates federal and state user privacy laws, Markey has lobbied the FTC to investigate the firm's practices.

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA all admitted to using Carrier IQ software, stating they integrated the application to improve their network performance. (Sprint has since disabled Carrier IQ across all handsets on its network.) Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it stopped using Carrier IQ's platform in the latest version of its operating system, iOS 5. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) have all denied implementing Carrier IQ services on their devices.

For more:
- read this release

Related articles:
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Sprint disables Carrier IQ across all phones
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Verizon, Nokia: Carrier IQ software is not on our phones