Markey introduces mobile privacy bill

“Just because a mobile device is hand held doesn’t mean it should hand over personal information to third parties without permission,” Markey, the co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, said in a statement. "Consumers should know and have the choice to say no to software on their mobile devices that is transmitting their personal and sensitive information."

Markey released a draft version of the bill earlier this year in response to the outcry over Carrier IQ, the tracking software baked into smartphones that is said to help mobile companies monitor the performance of their devices. Privacy hawks have argued that Carrier IQ logs users' keystrokes on their mobile phones, but the software company has rejected that charge.

Markey's bill requires companies that want to transfer device information to third parties to file such agreements at the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. It would also ensure third parties have policies in place to safeguard the data it receives.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Advocacy group Free Press endorsed the introduction of Markey's measure. Craig Aaron, chief executive of Free Press, called the bill a "common sense solution to privacy concerns that all consumers worry about."

But the bill also received a negative review from the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), which counts IBM and Oracle as members. Mark MacCarthy, vice president of public policy at SIIA, said in a blog post that the bill is the "wrong way to go" because it would "impose rigid privacy rules on the mobile industry that can only lead to stagnation and a loss of innovative dynamism."

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subpanel on Commerce, said Markey's bill likely wouldn’t see action until next year since it's already so late in the congressional session. She declined to predict what issues would come up in the lame duck because "everything will change depending on the outcomes of the elections." 

Markey's measure is just one of many privacy bills that have been introduced in Congress. The congressman is also crafting legislation that aims to require drone operators to meet a set of privacy standards.  

— This story was updated at 4:05 p.m.