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Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"


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    Update: Rep. Ed Markey Releases Mobile Device Privacy Act

    Last year, there were reports about how smartphone users’ data could be quietly gathered and used by companies via software from a company called Carrier IQ. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Carrier IQ demanding answers about how this technology affects cellphone users’ privacy. European officials are investigating the company for possible privacy violations. There is a class-action lawsuit underway. In January, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a co-chairman of the House caucus on privacy, released a discussion draft (pdf) of the Mobile Device Privacy Act, which would require telecommunications providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint to reveal if they are using data-tracking software such as Carrier IQ on mobile devices.

    Now, Markey has released the proposed legislation, H.R. 6377, “The Mobile Device Privacy Act” (Markey pdf; archive pdf). The bill “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,” his office says. In a press release, Markey’s office notes:

    The “Mobile Device Privacy Act” protects consumers by requiring:

    • Disclosure of mobile telephone monitoring 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
    • The disclosure includes the fact that the monitoring software has been installed on the phone, the types of information that are collected, the identity of the parties to which the information is transmitted, and how such information will be used
    • Consumer consent before monitoring software begins collecting and transmitting information
    • The party receiving the personal information must have policies in place to secure the information
    • Agreements on information transmission must be filed at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    • An enforcement regime for the FTC and FCC, along with State AG enforcement and a private right of action

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