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Mobile Device Privacy Act, meant to stop Carrier IQ-style data collection, introduced in Congress

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Representative Edward Markey has introduced the Mobile Device Privacy Act, a bill meant to prevent companies from tracking data on mobile phones without consumer knowledge.

AT&T LG Nitro Carrier IQ stock 900
AT&T LG Nitro Carrier IQ stock 900

After asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Carrier IQ's controversial tracking practices, US Representative Edward Markey has sponsored legislation to prevent it or other companies from collecting data without informing customers. The Mobile Device Privacy Act, drafted in January and introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, requires companies that sell mobile devices or phone and data subscriptions to inform consumers if any "monitoring software" is included. If so, it must also detail the type of information that could be collected, who it's being sent to, and how it will be used. What's more, customers must consent to the tracking and be free to opt out even if they initially agree to have information collected.

If a company is found to be breaking the law, it can be fined $1,000 or more per violation, according to the bill's text. However, the FTC can grant exemptions if data collection is consistent with the "reasonable expectations of consumers." The bill has been referred to a committee, and it likely won't see a vote for some time. Since controversy ignited over Carrier IQ's widespread data collection last year, the company itself has pledged to build a "culture of privacy." However, it and carriers are unlikely to support legislation on the matter, even if the bill still allows tracking as long as customers are aware of it.