Cell Phone Privacy and Data Security: The FCC Wants Your Input

Mobile Security and Cell Phone PrivacyThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investigating the issue of cell phone privacy and data security and is seeking public comment on the matter.

In a public notice issued on May 25, 2012 the FCC, in conjunction with the Wireline Competition Bureau, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of General Counsel, announced that it is soliciting comments “regarding the privacy and data security practices of mobile wireless service providers with respect to customer information stored on their users’ mobile communications devices, and the application of existing privacy and security requirements to that information.”

The request comes after the FCC determined that technological advances in the past few years have given wireless service providers access to new personal information about their customers. The new data carriers now collect and store renders previous views on the responsibility of ensuring the security of private information antiquated. As stated in the FCC notice, “In recent months, it has become clear that these submissions are badly out of date. Mobile carriers are directing the collection and storage of customer-specific information on mobile devices”.


The old rules regarding data collected and security was based on the assumption that wireless carriers served only as the intermediary between mobile device manufacturers and the end-user. However, in light of advances in technology, the FCC wrote that “the devices consumers use to access mobile wireless networks have become more sophisticated and powerful, and their expanded capabilities have at times been used by wireless providers to collect information about particular customers’ use of the network — sometimes, it appears, without informing the customer”.

The FCC acknowledged that in recent months, several lawmakers have criticized wireless carriers for their use of “Carrier IQ,” a software that collects data on how and where consumers use their smartphones. While the companies said they only used the software to collect general information about the performance of their phones and networks, lawmakers suspect that Carrier IQ gives companies access to the phone numbers consumers dialed, the contents of their text messages, the websites they visited, their search queries and even their locations.

While the commission went on to note that this data can be used as a “legitimate and effective way to improve the quality of wireless services”, they also noted that “the collection, transmission, and storage of this customer-specific network information raises new privacy and security concerns”. What’s more, it remains unclear as to who receives this information and for what purposes. Namely, what are the parameters of network diagnostics and customer care.

In general, telecommunications companies are obligated to protect the personal information of their customers, and the FCC has the authority to enforce that requirement. The FCC is currently reviewing its policies and regulations to update the antiquated privacy guidelines. The commission will accept comments and feedback related to the issue for a period of 30 days. The FCC is looking into questions about the level of consumer choice over data collection, whether companies should design their software to better protect privacy, and whether there is anything the FCC can do to encourage better privacy practices.

To help with gauge consumer awareness, FCC.com wants to know how much knowledge you have with respect to the data collected by your wireless service provider.

This entry was posted in Featured, Wireless Communications and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Cell Phone Privacy and Data Security: The FCC Wants Your Input

  1. Shirley Jo says:

    I am sick to death of our invasion of privacy just because the opportunity is available to the big companies out there. I want my right to privacy back.

  2. B says:

    I know first hand the good that certain information can provide when used to diagnose phone issues. But I also know that there isn’t a great deal of regulation among carriers, specifically AT&T, as to who can access, what they can access and for what reason. Being formally from that industry I was able to access information pertaining to location and usage, but others were able to see browsing, queries, and view text messages if needed. The fact of the matter is, all carriers are able to know all calls in and out, text in and out, data in and out; websites, apps, etc., and any and all usage done on your device. This is also why carriers do not like when a phone is “rooted.” Once rooted, a phone can have many carrier specific programs deleted or turned off. If someone doesn’t want a carrier to know anything about them go buy a pre-paid phone, don’t store anything on it, don’t text on it or use data. Just make calls for a time, ditch the phone, buy a knew one and start again. Or last resort, don’t use a mobile phone at all.

  3. SA says:


    I don’t see the reason for trying to take a persons privacy from them. There should be laws againt this. What and who do they think they are, God? Mind your own business and I believe you have enough to take care in your own life.

  4. In Romania, the cell privacy is no longer..

  5. Gerard Hallaren says:

    I think there is a more than reasonable expectation of privacy during mobile phone calls, mobile email, mobile text, and for information I store on the device.

    Why would I care, unless the information was personally linked to me, about the phone company tracking my use, device errors, etc.? I believe the carriers use this information very carefully. If they did not we would need new regulation. For now we don’t.

  6. Marilyn says:

    I would like to see the FCC stop the deal with Sprint and the Cable Co. or at least impose significant restrictions on the licenses purchased in this spectrum. Please help us (consumer)

  7. Devin Catrell says:

    My privacy is just that; mine! Just as I expect the government to stay out of my bedroom, I expect predatory, corporate toadies to stay off of my smart phone and out of my contact list.

  8. James says:

    I have seen many crime cases and culprits being caught with the help of the data that wireless or mobile providers use to collect but then I seriously do not understand what is the use of tracing 24/7 location, and accessing calls or texts. I mean it is nothing less than a sick rule if it is, its not that we aren’t in support of security aspects but law must also be made checking all the sides so that a smooth running process could be availed. It is seriously not good, it is like playing with the emotions of common citizens of your own country. One thing each and every provider must keep in mind that its us who has given them wings to be known around so they must never forget to give importance to us and our privacy.

    Accident at Work Claim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *