US lawmaker: Mobile users should be able to delete data

The proposed bill would also require mobile apps to disclose their data collection policies

A U.S. lawmaker has proposed legislation that would allow mobile phone users to ask apps to stop collecting their personal data and to delete information collected in the past.

U.S. Representative Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, released a discussion draft of the Application Privacy, Protection, and Security Act on Wednesday. The proposed bill would require mobile apps to give users notice of the information they collect and obtain consent before collecting personal data.

In addition, the proposal would allow mobile app users to tell the developer they have stopped using the app and want data collection to stop. App developers would have to delete any personal data collected "to the extent practicable," according to the text of the proposal.

Johnson solicited ideas for a mobile privacy law through a website, AppRights.us, launched last July.

"Because the majority of the feedback that we received on AppRights expressed strong support for user control, transparency, and security, we incorporated these principles into the bill," Johnson said in a statement.

"Many of you also told us that simple mechanisms are important to protecting your privacy on mobile devices," he added. "After listening to these concerns, we have written provisions to address these concerns without threatening the functionality or integrity of the mobile apps that you love."

The proposal, not yet formally introduced as legislation, would also allow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to enforce app privacy rules. State attorneys general could also bring civil lawsuits against app developers for privacy violations.

Steve DelBianco, executive director of the NetChoice e-commerce trade group, called on lawmakers to give a mobile app privacy process led by the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration time to develop recommendations. Participants met again Thursday in the ongoing series of meetings.

"We have been at this for six months, and have some ways yet to go," DelBianco said in an email. "So I hope the congressman will hold his bill until our multi-stakeholder process proves it can generate consensus best practices."

In addition to the Johnson proposal, Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, has indicated he plans to reintroduce a bill that would require mobile apps to get express authorization from users before collecting geolocation information.

NetChoice opposed the Franken bill, saying it could require a pop-up notice every time a mobile app collects geolocation information

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags governmentsecurityprivacymobilelegislationtelecommunication3g4gNetChoiceU.S. Federal Trade CommissionSteve DelBiancoU.S. House of RepresentativesHank JohnsonAl Franken

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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