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OTI Urges FCC to Give Consumers More Control Over Personal Data Collected by Mobile Providers

Argues Providers Should Have to Ask Customers’ Permission
Published:   July 31, 2012

Washington, DC — On Monday, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), joined by seven public interest and community organizations, filed comments with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the agency to give consumers more control over personal data collected by their mobile providers.

“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,” said OTI Policy Counsel Sarah Morris. “We hope that through this proceeding, the FCC requires providers to disclose to consumers precisely how their personal data is being used.”
 
Mobile providers are required to protect personal data collected through the provisioning of their services and to not share that data with third parties without consent. Unfortunately, mobile providers only vaguely and infrequently disclose what data they are collecting about customers. 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 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,” said 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.”
 
In the filling, OTI recommended that the FCC require carriers to fully disclose data collection practices and to obtain explicit, opt-in consent that should be renewed once every six months.
 
To read the full comments, click here.
 
To read earlier comments in this docket, click here.
 
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Clara Hogan at 202-596-3368 or hogan@newamerica.net.

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