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31 January 2012, 14:50

US legislation to strengthen mobile data protection proposed

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Zoom Edward Markey, the bill's sponsor.

A bill aimed at preventing Carrier IQ-type data protection scandals was placed before the US House of Representatives on Monday 30 January. Democrat Edward Markey's Mobile Device Privacy ActPDF aims to strengthen data protection for users of mobile phones and other mobile devices. "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", said Markey. The bill has been prompted by concerns about software from Carrier IQ which can record keystrokes, read text messages and collect other data.

The draft bill submitted to the house requires that mobile phone users will in future have to consent to the collection or transfer of data. Companies wishing to pass data to third parties would have to get the consent of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. The bill would also require that, when purchasing a device, consumers are informed if the device contains monitoring software, what data it collects, to whom the data is sent and what it is used for. If a company wished to install monitoring software at a later date, it would also have to be identified as such. Companies receiving collected data would also have to be able to guarantee the security of that data.

Markey's bill now faces a prolonged passage through Congress – it is not clear whether it will be able to muster sufficient support.

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