Markey Floats Cellphone Privacy Bill

Congressman's bill follows controversy over Carrier IQ software in millions of phones

The controversy over Carrier IQ's diagnostic tracking software on millions of cellphones caught the attention of privacy hawks in Congress late last year. Now, one of them, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), is floating draft legislation that would require companies to disclose to consumers when they're being tracked.

The Mobile Device Privacy Act would require companies to let consumers know what types of information are being collected, which companies get the information and how the data are being used. It would also require companies to get consent from consumers before information is collected, shared or transmitted.

If companies wish to share information with third parties, they must file agreements with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

"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 said.

Late last year, Carrier IQ found itself in hot water with lawmakers and privacy experts when an Android developer disclosed how Carrier IQ software could track a consumer's whereabouts and record every keystroke without their knowledge. Markey asked the FTC to investigate Carrier IQ for possible violations of unfair or deceptive practices.

As a result of the Carrier IQ flap, Carrier IQ faces federal investigation and multiple lawsuits. Some carriers, such as Sprint, disabled the Carrier IQ software. 

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