TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORTS18May 15, 2008 • Vol. 74, No. 10
(ESA), and failed to give enough notice of pending ap-plications.The Forest Conservation Council, the American BirdConservancy, and Friends of the Earth had asked the Com-mission in 2002 to order the owners of 5,797 antennastructures in the Gulf Coast region to draft environmen-tal assessments “disclosing the direct, indirect, and cu-mulative impacts of their structures on migratory birds.”The organizations also asked the FCC to prepare an en-vironmental impact statement (EIS) on the effect towersin the region have had and may have on migratory birds.Until an environmental review is completed, the agencyshould suspend registering antennas in the region, thegroups argued.In its decision, the appeals court affirmed in part,vacated in part, and remanded in part the FCC’s 2006order. Meanwhile, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunica-tions Bureau has announced a new docket — WT docket08-61 — in response to the court remand.
Mobile Commerce RaisesNumerous Privacy Issues
Mobile commerce applications such as location-basedservices (LBS) raise numerous privacy issues, expertsagreed at a May 6–7 meeting held by the Federal TradeCommission, but many opposed the imposition of newlaws or regulations and said that industry best practiceswere the most sensible approach.“We need flexibility in the rules,” said
, senior vice president and general counsel of CTIA, after outlining the trade group’s new best prac-tices to protect the privacy of consumers who use LBS.A number of speakers acknowledged that there cur-rently is a patchwork of regulations and laws governingmobile commerce, with some applications apparently notcovered at all. But industry representatives in particularurged restraint in relying on new laws or rules.
, chief computer scientist for the Cen-ter for Democracy and Technology, said she doesn’t fa-vor adding to the patchwork, but she suggested that a“baseline law” addressing consumer privacy in the digi-tal age is necessary. But
, executive directorand president of TRUSTe, a nonprofit online privacy en-tity, suggested that even a baseline law could become outof date as new technologies and applications are intro-duced.A particular source of concern regarding privacy areLBS applications that allow individuals to be tracked,speakers agreed. “People have visceral concerns aboutpeople knowing where they are,” said
, ex-ecutive director of the Internet Education Foundation. ButMs. Cooper cited a survey that showed that 35% of con-sumers don’t realize that law enforcement officials cantrack them through their mobile phones.She said there is no legal standard for what law en-forcement must present to service providers in order totrack the location of consumers, saying that a probablecause warrant for both real-time and historical locationinformation should be necessary. “The government isroutinely requesting location information from carriers”without a warrant, she added.Several industry representatives, including those whorepresent third-party aggregators of information, stressedthat privacy controls are in place that require mobile phoneusers to consent to their location being released — suchas to friends.However, how operators and other content providersseek that consent was a topic of discussion. Ms. Maiersuggested there is a need for standardization on how no-tice is given and consent is sought on small mobile de-vice screens. She also suggested that, in many cases,consumers should get recurring consent notices.While an opt-in consent regime is generally the fa-vored approach for privacy advocates, “there’s such athing as a bad opt in,” Ms. Cooper said, and a “good optout.”In opening remarks, FTC Commissioner
said that while applications such as textingand location services have brought exciting new uses toconsumers, they have also created new challenges thatmust be dealt with.He noted, for example, that marketers are increas-ingly using the text and Internet functions on mobilephones to send advertisements, and that younger usersare especially being targeted. “All of these issues of heightened concern when it deals with children and teens,”he said. “It makes them easy prey for aggressive market-ers.”Regarding the LBS, which allows a person to betracked via their wireless phone, Commissioner Leibowitzsaid while consumers love the mapping capabilities andthe usefulness it provides in emergency situations, theyalso raise issues about government access and privacy.Thus far, the Democratic regulator said he has beenencouraged by the industry’s proactive approach to regu-late itself. He cited CTIA’s LBS best practices, but said of