For months now, privacy advocates and regulators alike have been concerned about the fact that wireless providers have the ability to collect data from user devices. In the U.S., Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) chaired more than one hearing on the issue. Regulators in the EU engaged in similar inquiries.
Now U.S. legislators have introduced a bill that, if passed, will require wireless service providers and handset makers to disclose when their devices contain monitoring software. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who drafted the bill, said:
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.
To that end, the bill applies to wireless service providers, those who make and/or sell mobile devices as well as monitoring software providers. It would require the companies, when the devices are purchased or when the software is installed, to provide notice that the software is installed, the type of data it collects, how said data is used, and the identity of any third party to which the data is sent.
The bill would also empower the Federal Trade Commission to promulgate regulations requiring the companies to which it applies to obtain user consent before the software begins collecting information.