New mobile device privacy bill to stop Carrier IQ-like software

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A Massachusetts congressman on Monday released a draft version of legislation that would require mobile companies to inform consumers about their ability to track them and require opt-in consent.

“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 href=”http://www.crunchbase.com/company/carrier-iq” rel=”crunchbase” target=”_blank” title=”Carrier IQ”>Carrier IQ,” Rep. Edward Markey, a href=”http://www.democrats.org/” rel=”homepage” target=”_blank” title=”Democratic Party (United States)”>Democrat, said in a statement. “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 push for legislation comes after it was found that a piece of software called Carrier IQ was installed in about 150 cellphones from href=”http://www.att.com/” rel=”homepage” target=”_blank” title=”AT&T”>AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. The software recorded data such as carrier networks, data transmission speeds, phone numbers called, Web sites visited and battery life. The software was designed to tell mobile carriers about the status of their networks, but the company admitted in December that its software might have captured keystrokes or the content of messages by accident. Security researcher Trevor Eckhartwas the first to post findings about the software and the security concerns he believed it posed.

If it passes, the bill could also have an impact on organizations such as CarrierCoverage.com— scheduled to officially launch in one week — which hope to crowd-source mobile performance metrics while being transparent, open, and honest about their methods and practices:


Markey asked the href=”http://www.ftc.gov/” rel=”homepage” target=”_blank” title=”Federal Trade Commission”>Federal Trade Commission investigate whether Carrier IQ was being unfair or deceptive toward consumers, saying that the software raised serious privacy concerns. In December, government officials confirmed to The Washington Post that federal investigators were investigating those allegations.

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