March 31st, 2011
Reps. Markey, Barton Put Cell Companies on Notice
The concern over online privacy is moving to cell phones. An article in The New York Times about how Deutsche Telekom was able to track every move of one German privacy advocate has alarmed legislators here in the States, prompting Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Tex., who co-chair the House Privacy Caucus, to dash off letters to the U.S.’ top four wireless companies.
Wireless companies have to be able to track phones’ signals in order to deliver service, of course, but the congressmen warned that using that information for commercial purposes would run afoul of the law.
“The new telecommunications catchphrase should not be ‘Can you find me now?’ if consumers don’t want a mobile minder following their every move,” Markey said in a statement.
Markey and Barton asked AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile to respond to a list of seven questions and explain their data collection, storage and disclosure practices by April 19.
Asked for a response to the letter, a Verizon spokeswoman told Adweek, “We have extensive privacy policies, and we take our customers’ privacy very seriously.”