Mobile Device Privacy Act Introduced Today

Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass) introduced a new bill in the U.S. Congress today, dubbed the  “Mobile Device Privacy Act.”  The crux of the Act is to require companies to inform their consumers of any tracking capabilities in their mobile products.  Further, the Act will require express consent of the consumer before any of the monitoring software begins collecting information and relaying that information to third parties.

According to Mr. Markey, “Apps very commonly access our sensitive information — our location, our photos, Web browsing, history.”  Moreover, “Apps often do this without prior notice and even when the app isn’t actively being used.”  Some preventative measures clearly must be taken.  However, the looming question is whether Mr. Markey’s Act, or some variation of the Act, is the way to go.

According to The Hill’s technology blogger, Jennifer Martinez, some call the bill a “common sense solution to privacy concerns that all consumers worry about.”

On the other hand, however, some argue that the Act would impose rigid privacy standards that could hinder economic growth in a field with great potential — believing that such inhibitions could create catastrophic repercussions in the industry.  According to the Software & Information Industry Association’s Mark MacCarthy, this is a “Time for Collaboration, Not Legislation.”  Further, MacCarthy says that the world seems to be looking to the industry “to show that self-regulation can work as a viable alternative to government mandates.”

What do you think of Mr. Markey’s proposed Act?  Fortunately (or unfortunately — depending on your position), we have some time to mull this question over, because, as Martinez said, “Markey’s bill likely wouldn’t see action until next year since it’s already so late in the congressional session.”

Image: picjumbo /  Viktor Hanacek

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