ACLU Wary of FCC Cell Phone Guidelines

January 12, 2001 12:00 am

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RALEIGH, NC — The fact that companies will be able to pinpoint a person’s location to within a few feet using software in new wireless phones is disconcerting to the American Civil Liberties Union, reported.

According to Bizjournals, “What bothers me is not that people can find you, because there are good reasons for that,” says Deborah Ross, executive and legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

“What bothers me is who can know where you are,” she said.

The ACLU has been an aggressive protector of individual cyber rights, fighting such efforts as the federal government’s “Carnivore” surveillance program.

Ross wants to make sure consumers have the right to opt out of direct location and marketing efforts as allowed by Federal Communications Commission guidelines.

“We think people should be able to choose whether or not their private information is available publicly or can be sold,” she said.

Spokespeople for phone companies point out that such services as direct marketing will be optional. Ross says consumers need to know they have a choice.

“For emergency services, it’s certainly a different thing. This is significantly less objectionable to us,” she explained. “But can 911 information be used for any other purpose? We would say no.”

Ross also says she wants to see that information about users isn’t shared “willy-nilly” by law enforcement agencies without a warrant.

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