The recent Carrier-IQ scandal has caused such a commotion when several smartphone users discovered that the app was pre-installed on their devices. Apart from just being installed on the device, the app collected user data including time and geographic location, without the consent of its user. As a result, the US Congress is now trying to prevent similar suspicious activity by introducing the Mobile Device Privacy Act.
Once this bill passes, it will have a large effect on organizations such as the CarrierCoverage.com, which is scheduled to have an official launch in a week’s time. The bill will crowd-source mobile performance metrics to be transparent, honest and open about their strategies, practices and methods. Compared to Carrier-IQ, Carrier Coverage has been created for the use of its consumers, in the hopes of providing accurate and unbiased reports on manufacturers and their carriers. This is where the Mobile Device Privacy Act will take effect.
Any company observed doing any mobile tracking, will be enforced several requirements by the bill. Every carrier, manufacturer, or game/app developer should disclose any tracking software that they have installed on a device upon purchase. Or they can make disclosures once they have installed it after purchase. It is then the decision of the user to provide consent. Based on this decision, the company will have to make visible attempts to protect data.
While this sounds like a fair bill, many are concerned with how the Congress does not always get things right. Particularly with this new bill, the Congress has done some vague wordings that might cause an issue with the bill later on:
‘To require disclosures to consumers regarding the capability of software to monitor mobile telephone usage, to require the express consent of the consumer prior to monitoring, and for other purposes.’
It seems like more consideration needs to go through the bill before it is passed, in order to avoid any future issues.