Find: "Mobile Device Privacy Act" would prevent secret smartphone monitoring

Government protecting its citizens' phones from everyone except ... the government. 

Ars Technica

Recent controversy sparked by the installation of monitoring software on millions of smartphones has led US Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) to propose a requirement that carriers and phone makers inform consumers about the presence of monitoring software and gain their "express consent" before collecting and transmitting information from phones.

The controversy started a couple months back when a developer publicized the widespread use of Carrier IQ software, which phone manufacturers and carriers use to monitor what happens on a smartphone. While Apple, Samsung, HTC, AT&T and others all said the software is used only as a diagnostics tool to improve network and service performance, congressmen started denouncing the use of Carrier IQ, and class-action lawsuits were filed.

Markey, co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, says such software should only be used on a consumer's phone with the phone user's explicit consent. Yesterday, he released draft legislation that would require disclosure of monitoring software when a consumer buys a mobile phone. The legislation also would prevent manufacturers from collecting and transmitting information unless consumer consent is obtained, and outlines security policies companies must follow when they receive personal information from smartphones.

“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,” Markey said in a statement. “While consumers rely on their phones, their phones relay all sorts of information about them, often without their knowledge or consent." Markey's legislation is just in a "discussion draft" right now, so it's early in the legislative process. It would also take a while to be enforced. The draft directs the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate regulations described in the legislation "not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act."