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FCC disagrees with NSA - telcos must protect mobile metadat privacy


This is so surreal you just can't make it up! ;D

From TechDirt  :-* (link here)

FCC: Telcos Must Protect The Privacy Of Mobile Metadata That The NSA Insists Isn't Private
from the left-hand?-speak-to-the-right-hand dept

So the FCC has announced new rules saying that mobile operators must protect the privacy of their users, including around various metadata:

    "When mobile carriers use their control of customers' devices to collect information about customers' use of the network, including using preinstalled apps ... carriers are required to protect that information," the FCC said in a statement today. "This sensitive information can include phone numbers that a customer has called and received calls from, the durations of calls, and the phone's location at the beginning and end of each call."

This came out, ostensibly, in response to an investigation by the FCC into the use of services like Carrier IQ by various mobile carriers, whereby they were collecting a ton of data about how everyone used their phones.

However, when put into the context of the news of the month: the federal government's dragnet surveillance efforts, which involves hoovering up all metadata on every single phone call made... it suddenly becomes somewhat interesting. On the one hand, you have the administration and its defenders claiming that there's no expectation of privacy in "metadata" like phone numbers, duration of calls and the phone's location. And yet, now you have the FCC, also a part of the same administration, flat out telling the world (and the telcos) that there's clearly an expectation of privacy in exactly the same information. And, of course, once you have that expectation of privacy, the 4th Amendment applies, no matter how many times the NSA says otherwise...

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  I have this nagging feeling that the FCC head honcho is about to become unemployed.....

Probably. But the President can't tell the FCC commissioners what to say. He can replace them with people who are more sympathetic towards his administration's position. But he can't order them to parrot his position or rubber stamp it.

This opens things up considerably now that the FCC is down on record as saying there's a "reasonable expectation of privacy" for mobile communications. It gives the courts room to step in and rule on the broader constitutional issue if/when this becomes a disputed decree.

Replacing the currently sitting commission membership with an entirely new slate won't make that legal question go away.

It was a brilliant maneuver on the part of the FCC. :Thmbsup:


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