Congress must pass effective privacy legislation to protect our children

ADVERTISEMENT
As a mobile forensics examiner, I see firsthand how intrusive mobile applications (‘apps’) have become in monitoring your actions, thereby heightening the ability of criminals to steal from you or child predators stalking our youth.


There is an application called LocalScope, for example, that provides you with information about people around you and what you and what they are saying and doing. The application demonstrates how users with services on their smartphones, like Twitter, Picasa, YouTube, and Instagram, are continually broadcasting where they are because they have Location Services enabled on their iPhone or similar device. If you are using an Android phone then every WiFi hotspot that you encounter is being recorded, regardless of whether you actually connect, thereby recording your movements.

These apps generally make no mention of parental consent or distinguish between an adult or a minor using a service. The changes being proposed by the FTC are necessary but will they be effective? The Kerry-McCain Privacy Bill has not gained momentum and other calls for improvements for protecting privacy have largely failed. Moreover, the investigations and fines by the FTC over Google’s invasive or deceptive practices are merely a microcosm of the broader issues surrounding privacy concerns, especially with children.

Clearly we need effective privacy legislation from Congress that will protect the U.S. public.

Hayes is a professor at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Hayes is a leading expert in computer forensics and security who has been a consultant on legal cases involving digital evidence. As the Computer Information Systems Program Chair at Pace, Hayes has cultivated partnerships with the New York Police Department, United Nations, and many other respected agencies.