Open Letter to Rep. Lofgren

I just sent the following letter to my Congressional Representative in support of the Mobile Device Privacy Act. You should consider doing the same.

My name is Joseph R. Jones, and I am a constituent of yours living in the southern part of San Jose. I work for Adobe Systems in San Jose as a Sr. Product Manager, and have been working in the technology industry focused primarily on information security for the last 18 years. I have continued to be pleased with your record concerning censorship and free speech and consumer privacy. I am writing about the latter.

One of your colleagues, Rep. Ed Markey from Massachusetts, has drafted legislation called the Mobile Device Privacy Act. This bill would limit the ability of cellphone manufacturers (like Apple, RIM, Samsung, and others) as well as wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) from installing or activating monitoring software without the consumer’s informed consent.

I feel this legislation is extremely important. While the recent “Carrier IQ” debacle was, to great extent, blown out of proportion, it cast a light on the critical issue of what information is being exposed to wireless providers and third parties with whom they do business. Keeping in mind the Third Party Doctrine, courts have ruled that an individual surrenders their fourth amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure when they share their personal information with a third party, so ensuring that consumers know what information is being shared is of paramount importance to civil liberties and the right to privacy. Privacy policies and terms and conditions of wireless providers have become so Byzantine that it is beyond the capabilities of an average consumer to make an informed decision, and often there is no opportunity to opt-out of monitoring (and that’s in the rare cases where monitoring is even disclosed!)

Today’s cell phones carry an unprecedented payload of personal information—years of personal and professional communication, logs of our physical location over time, web browsing histories, and more. Ensuring that this information is protected belongs near the top of the legislative agenda.

I hope that you will support this legislation, as I feel it is consistent with your stated views to date on the subject.

Thank you for your consideration,

Joseph R. Jones