The FCC and staff from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold a forum next month on how consumers can protect their privacy when using location-based services (LBS).
The June 28 forum was announced Tuesday amid growing concern from consumers, lawmakers and regulators about how cell phones are tracking and using user’s location data.
Last week, Apple and Google testified about their location tracking at a hearing led by Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), who closed the hearing saying he had “serious doubts” that consumers’ privacy rights were being respected either in law or in practice.
Apple and Google will face their second Senate hearing on mobile privacy tomorrow, along with testimony from Facebook and the FTC.
The FCC alluded to recent controversy over location-based services in its announcement of the educational session.
“Recent reports have raised concerns about the location-based information that is
gathered when consumers use mobile devices,” the FCC said in a statement.
The agency said “consumer apprehension” about privacy could act as a barrier to adoption of broadband and mobile devices, adding that public education could help consumers better understand LBS.
Next month’s forum will look at how location-based services work, what risks and benefits there are to using them, industry best practices and what parents should know about location tracking when their children use mobile devices.
The FCC has yet to release an agenda for the event, but says attendees will include representatives of carriers, technology companies, consumer advocacy groups and academia. Reuters reports that both Apple and Google have been invited to appear.
The session, as well as comments filed with the FCC on the issue, will be used in an upcoming report from the agency on the issue.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz formed a joint task force last summer on consumer privacy. Over the past several months, the FCC has also had an internal working group examining the privacy implications of the increased use of LBS and related services.
Both the staff at the FTC and the Department of Commerce recently issued separate reports noting the growing importance of addressing concerns about location privacy.