US Campaign Groups Lodge Mobile Marketing Privacy Complaint

14 January 2009

WASHINGTON, DC: Privacy advocates the Center for Digital Democracy and the US Public Interest Research Group have lodged a joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, urging that cellphone networks and advertisers should be made to reveal the data they collect about consumers.

The 52-page document says that new technology allows marketers to collect data on the whereabouts of cellphone users, as well as contextual data such as the websites they use on the mobile internet.

Jeff Chester, CDD's executive director, says: "You're talking about a device that can identify an individual. It's carried with you wherever you go and raises the stakes in terms of consumer protection in the digital era."

Cellphone marketing is currently governed by a voluntary code of conduct requiring consumers to "opt-in" to having information collected.

The Federal Communications Commission also ruled in 2007 that an opt-in was required before cellphone networks could release data to marketers.

However, campaigners argue these regulations are often lost in small-print, and want disclosure to be more open, as well as the inception of an FTC-operated education programme for cellphone users.

Data sourced from Business Week (online); additional content by WARC staff