Congress is creating new laws and regulations to make sure companies in the mobile industry are upholding their responsibilities in ensuring users’ privacy. Regulators have been intensifying the discussion in order to force companies to make changes to improve their privacy practices.
In addition, the FTC, California Attorney General and the White House have recently made announcements regarding mobile app privacy.
The White House also announced a data privacy framework that creates a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,” which includes mobile application privacy issues.
This past week, a class-action lawsuit was filed against 18 mobile application companies due to reports that these companies violate privacy laws by stealing users’ address books.
Twitter, Apple and Facebook are among the companies being sued for violating users’ rights.
So, what should mobile application companies due to prevent problems with regulators?
Last week, mobile enthusiasts congregated in Barcelona to participate in the annual Mobile World Congress—a celebration of the current state of mobile and its promising future.
The event is comprised of a thought-leadership conference with keynote speakers and panel discussions, a mobile technology exhibition, the Global Mobile Awards, and the newly added mPowered Brands—a program where global marketers and agencies share mobile marketing knowledge.
It’s no surprise that they added this program to the agenda, seeing as though mobile is now a force to be reckoned with in the marketing realm.
mPowered Brands seems like a great opportunity for the marketing professionals lucky enough to be involved. It focuses on accelerating marketers’ use of mobile as a marketing medium and gives professionals across the mobile marketing ecosystem the opportunity to gain practical insight and knowledge from some of the most innovative mobile marketing companies today, such as McCann Worldgroup and Nielsen.
Aside from the mobile marketing component of the event, the keynote speaker series featured a hefty lineup of innovative speakers that hold some degree of clout in the mobile industry. Speakers included Ralph de la Vega, President & CEO of AT&T Mobility, John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay, and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, among many others.
Another cool part of the Mobile World Congress is the exhibition, where mobile aficionados can sneak a peek at the new phones, tablets, apps, accessories, and other emerging mobile technologies.
About 1,500 different companies showcased their products, and over 12,500 app developers participated in App Planet, which focused on the latest technology within the apps industry. The App Planet exhibition was hosted by big players like BlackBerry, IBM, IMGA, Nokia, Samsung and WIP.
The event also included forums and seminars related to mobile industry topics such as augmented reality, mobile cloud, mobile security, mobile spam, mobile privacy, and more.
The vast amount of information and insight shared at Mobile World Congress 2012 would certainly be beneficial for mobile professionals across the globe. From what I can gather, the event seemed like a great resource for experts in the mobile industry to educate themselves and share their knowledge and expertise with others.
Mobile commerce is on the rise, which means people are more comfortable with the idea of paying with their phones. However, apprehension is still resonating throughout the mobilized world regarding the safety of this kind of payment system.
Of course, NFC technology and QR card readers will make it so that no one—not even cashiers—will be touching your phone besides you. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty and fear of privacy regarding the mobile industry.
Mobile coupons are also still under tough scrutiny by many security-conscious consumers, as they require companies to gather personal data about subscribers.
Data reported by eMarketer found that 35.6 million mobile phone users will use mobile coupons by 2013, but a study from Opus Research found that nearly 52% of consumers are “not likely to use” mobile coupons. Their hesitance is due mostly to security concerns over handing someone their phone to make a payment.
Also, we can recall the big news about Carrier IQ, a technology company who allegedly gathers personal data about mobile phone users.
These are the types of security issues that are holding people back from trusting the industry.
The issue of privacy is so pressing that Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts congressman released a draft version of legislation that would require mobile companies to inform consumers about their ability to track them and require opt-in consent.
The bill, titled the Mobile Device Privacy Act, would require cell phone providers to inform consumers if their devices include software that can track them and collect their personal data.
Of course, any technology that collects or shares personal data with others will run into some problems with consumers who are savvy in the realm of privacy and security.
The bottom line is, mobile users need to know what they’re getting when they sign on with a mobile carrier, use mobile payment systems, subscribe to mobile coupons or purchase mobile apps. These new mobile security and privacy laws will help set the standards and change will follow.
But hey, the mobile industry transformed immensely in a very short period of time. It was only a matter of time before these types of problems would surface.
Article first published as Mobile Security & Privacy Concerns on Technorati.