Location based services

At its open meeting on February 20, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to improve the accuracy of caller location information provided to public safety officials for all wireless calls to 911, including indoor calls. The Commission noted that over 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones, with those calls increasingly coming from indoor locations. Last month, Commissioner Rosenworcel characterized the lack of reliable location information as “an unacceptable gap.” Today’s action moves forward on the issue, despite carriers’ concerns (and those of some Commissioners) that the technologies are not sufficiently ready.
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Days before tomorrow’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Workshop on Mobile Disclosures, the FCC weighed in with a pair of releases on privacy and security issues raised by mobile devices.  In the first item released on Friday, the FCC is seeking to refresh its record regarding the privacy and data security practices of mobile wireless service providers in light of recent disclosures concerning software developed by CarrierIQ.  The FCC’s Public Notice seeks to update the record in a five-year-old rulemaking proceeding addressing carrier obligations in connection with devices that function on their networks.  In the second item released, the FCC released its staff report on location-based services (LBS).  Consistent with the approach of the Administration and the FTC (as was discussed at our 4th Annual Privacy Seminar), the FCC focused on ways carriers can protect information from misuse or mishandling, transparency in carrier disclosures and maximizing consumer choice in the use of LBS.

Collectively, the releases demonstrate that the FCC will continue to work cooperatively with the FTC and the Administration (including the NTIA) to address privacy issues in the mobile market. The FCC appears to believe it has sufficient statutory authority to act on mobile and device privacy, with its emphasis being on its jurisdiction over carrier practices in connection with both services and devices.

Josh Guyan contributed to this post.
 


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