• Reps. Joe Barton, R-Tex., and Edward J. Markey, D- Mass., Co-Chairs of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, have asked the chief executive officers of AT&T, Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp., and T-Mobile USA, Inc. questions about how they store, collect, and disclose wireless location data. The letters seek information as to how the companies are complying with section 222 of the Communications Act, which mandates that carriers must have consent from its customers before using, disclosing, or accessing location information for commercial purposes. Rep. Barton noted in a separate statement that “It’s like a real world version of the game ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Hundreds of millions of us are carrying cell phones right now - Are we being tracked? And if so, why don’t we know it?” Responses have been requested by April 19, 2011. Rep. Markey has posted a release about the letters, available here.
  • Google and the FTC have announced a proposed settlement regarding charges that Google was deceptive and violated its privacy policies when launching “Google Buzz” last year. According to the FTC, Google “led Gmail users to believe that they could choose whether or not they wanted to join the network,” but the “options for declining or leaving the social network were ineffective.” The FTC also alleged that Google “misrepresented that it was treating personal information from the European Union in accordance with the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor privacy framework,” a voluntary program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Union, which allows a company to self-certify that it complies with a specific set of privacy principles. Under the settlement, Google would be required to implement a “comprehensive privacy program” and “have audits conducted by independent third parties every two years” for the next 20 years. The agreement will be subject to comment through May 2, 2011, after which the FTC will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. For further information regarding the settlement and comment period, click here.