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Reply Comments on Mobile Privacy

CC Docket 96-115
July 30, 2012 |

While various commenters would prefer to rely on the rhetoric proffered in the Commission’s 2007 proceeding, their comments reflect the same opacity and blind faith in voluntary behavior to protect privacy, the effectiveness of which has failed to materialize in the five years following the Commissions last assessment of its § 222 obligations. The Commission has an opportunity (and, indeed the statutory directive) to regulate CPNI data collection practices of mobile carriers. New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Benton Foundation, Center for Media Justice, Free Press, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Media Alliance, People’s Production House, and Public Knowledge (collectively, “Commenters”) offer the following reply comments in the above-captioned dockets outlining the need and statutory basis for Commission action with regard to data stored on mobile devices and collected using applications such as Carrier IQ.

We counter the assertions that the CPNI rules do not extend to data stored on mobile devices and ask the Commission to find that data to be within the purview of § 222. Commenters also point out the unreliability and obvious evasiveness of the justifications offered with regard to this data collection behavior, and we reaffirm our request that “the Commission … not merely take the carriers’ self-assessments of these practices at face value, given the variety of incentives in play as well as the carriers’ inconsistencies in the 2007 proceeding.”

Further, Commenters argue that the existence of a concurrent agency proceeding on privacy issues that may or may not fully address mobile privacy issues is not a bar to Commission action on a specific statutory directive. Commenters note that the Commission can and should consider these obligations notwithstanding any other privacy proceedings that may or may not ultimately result in comprehensive reform.

Finally, Commenters reiterate their earlier request that the Commission impose an explicit, opt-in consent requirement for all CPNI data collected by mobile carriers, as well as a requirement that carriers re-disclose their data collection and sharing practices and renew consent from each customer once every six months. Commenters also support the suggestion by other privacy groups that the principles outlined in the White House’s recently-released Privacy Report should serve to guide the Commission’s development of specific requirements for CPNI.

Full comments are available as a PDF.

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