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Carrier IQ spawns cellphone privacy bill


In the wake of tracking software Carrier IQ being discovered on many cellphones, one Congressional representative has proposed a bill that would make providers reveal such Big Brother installations to subscribers.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who is also the co-chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, released a discussion draft of The Mobile Device Privacy App, which would require the unveiling of such software when a consumer buys a mobile phone. For those who already have one, it would bind carriers, manufacturers and/or mobile operating systems to reveal the later installation of monitoring software, or if a consumer downloads an app that contains tracking mechanisms.

This early draft would also require the consent of the consumer prior to any monitoring and information transmission. 

The MDPA comes after the uproar over Carrier IQ, software installed by major carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile that runs in the background of mobile device and is capable of logging sensitive information and transmitting it. Lawsuits have been filed against carriers and manufacturers focusing on privacy violations and a security expert has made a widely circulating video on how the software works.

In its defense, the company has repeatedly denied recording, storing or transmitting the contents of text messages, emails, photos, audio and video files. Carrier IQ says it uses the information to help diagnose network and service problems, that's it. 

Sprint recently stated that it removed the controversial software, after it disabled it last month.

In December, Markey led the call for a probe by the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) to investigate Carrier IQ for possible unfair or deceptive acts and/or practices in regards to mobile device users' privacy. Read, for yourself, this early draft of Markey's proposed bill:

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On Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who is also trying to keep her head above water in the Google+ stream.