Consumers should have more control over their personal data after it is collected by mobile providers, according to several advocacy and not-for-profit organizations.
The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) was one of seven public organizations urging the request after submitting comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
“Mobile carriers are collecting detailed, personal information from consumers’ mobile phones, and customers attempting to understand the data collection are left navigating a maze of convoluted privacy policies,” Sarah Morris, an OTI counsel, said in a statement. “We hope that through this proceeding, the FCC requires providers to disclose to consumers precisely how their personal data is being used.”
Currently, mobile providers must protect personal data collected via their services and can’t share the data with third parties – unless they have user consent, OTI said.
“Unfortunately, mobile providers only vaguely and infrequently disclose what data they are collecting about customers,” OTI added. “Customers also generally must opt-out (if they are even given the option) of any sharing of personal data by the provider that could include location information, a user’s Web history, or even what they searched for while on a wireless service.”
The concern relates to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The organizations expressing concerns include: the Benton Foundation, the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the Media Alliance, People’s Production House and Public Knowledge, according to a submission to the FCC.
“The use of Carrier IQ by the nation’s mobile providers underscores the ability of these companies to collect huge amounts of personal data on its customers without their knowledge or permission,” alleged Benjamin Lennett, OTI policy director. “It is imperative that providers fully disclose what data they are collecting, and, in the same way that Web users need a ‘Do Not Track’ option, mobile phone users should have the option to not be tracked by their mobile provider.”
The OTI wants carriers to release data collection practices and to receive “explicit, opt-in consent” that is renewed every six months, according to the organization’s statement.
In a related matter, MobilityTechzone reported recently that the OTI offered recommendations to reform spectrum policy to better support public media in efforts to provide quality news, journalism, education, arts and civic information.
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Edited by Braden Becker