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FCC, FTC to hold public forum on privacy issues

US: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it will hold a “public education forum” to which it has invited the telecom industry, smartphone operating systems suppliers, privacy groups and academia. The forum will be held June 28 in Washington D.C.

The FCC has also invited privacy experts from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has taken the lead in scrutinising how targeted online ads — built around mining and analysing data to create online profiles of consumers — can erode personal privacy.

The FCC waded into the midst of the roiling controversy about location tracking systems built into Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones. The commission stated goal: to explore “how consumers can be both smart and secure” when using cutting-edge smartphones that are capable of precisely tracking a user’s whereabouts multiple times during the course of a day.

“This is the first time the FCC has taken a comprehensive look at location-based services and privacy,” said Ruth Milkman the FCC’s wireless bureau chief. “We recognise the enormous potential for benefit that location-based services offer – but we’re also acutely aware of the risks caused by consumer confusion.”

The FCC is responsible for regulating the business practices of cellphone service giants AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. The agency now wants to convey that it is paying attention to recent revelations about smartphone location tracking systems, said John Blevins, associate professor of law at Loyala University New Orleans.

Source: USA Today