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Entries in Cellphones (2)

Tuesday
May102011

Senate Subcommittee Investigates Mobile Safety, Data Collection

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The growing use of mobile technology to communicate is making it easier to stay in touch -- maybe even more than you desire. A Senate subcommittee is looking at ways to give consumers control of the data generated by their smart phones and other devices.

“Consumers have a fundamental right to know what data is being collected about them,” said Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. “I also believe they have a right to decide whether they want to share that information and with whom they want to share it and when.”

Franken says that data collected by the mobile device in your pocket can tell an awful lot about you, and that the scope of the problem is staggering.

“Each year over 26,000 adults are stalked through the use of GPS devices, including GPS devices on mobile phones,” Franken said. “That’s from 2006, when there were a third as many smart phones as there are today.”

Testifying on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Jessica Rich of the Federal Trade Commission said there's a lot to be worried about.

“These concerns stem from the always-on, always-with you personal nature of mobile devices,” Rich said, noting the potential hazards of “invisible collection and sharing of data with multiple parties, the ability to track consumers -- including children and teens -- to their precise location.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Friday
Apr082011

Government Shutdown: Employees May Have to Turn In BlackBerrys

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The dark shadow of a government shutdown is hanging over Capitol Hill and congressional offices are planning for the worst -- like what to do with the more than one million government-issued BlackBerry cellphones.

Memos are starting to go out informing staffers if they are "essential" or not, and rumors of collection bins for office-issued BlackBerry devices are flying through the hallways.

"We were hopeful maybe it won't happen yesterday, but after this afternoon…with the president's veto threat we are thinking this is going to happen.  Reality is setting in.  Everyone's preparing now," said one Republican House staffer Thursday.

The House Administration Committee issued a guidance memo Thursday encouraging members to confiscate furloughed employees' BlackBerry phones and laptops to ensure no one breaks the moratorium on performing official duties.  Over a million BlackBerry cellphones are used by government employees, according to a spokeswoman for RIM, the company that owns BlackBerry.

"The physical collection does seem a little bit dramatic but certainly the temptation is absolutely there," said the staffer, who asked not to be named because shutdown plans have not been made public yet.  "For a lot of us this is our life and to say well, no, we have to put it on hold is very tough.  I can't imagine it.  'Just sit back and stay at home' sounds like it would be great, but it's definitely not."

Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Mich., said he will not collect his furloughed staffers' cellphones.

"You don't need to go around like you're disarming them.  They are responsible adults.  I trust them not to use them," McCotter said.

The committee's guidance was rather vague on which staff members are "essential" and which should be furloughed, saying only employees whose work is necessary to fulfill a member's constitutional responsibilities, safeguard human life or protect property are "essential."

There is no consensus on just how many employees will stay in the event of a shutdown.  Some offices have said they will keep their entire staffs.  Others, like McCotter's office, has said every staff member will be furloughed.´╗┐

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ABC News Radio