Consumer Protection Alert: Buyer Beware

President Barack Obama’s commitment to consumer privacy faces an early but critical test concerning federal safeguards for mobile-device users.
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Consumer advocate organizations, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 13, 2009.

The organizations seek protections to curb the ability of companies to track consumers’ mobile Web-surfing habits, a measure which would prevent companies from targeting advertisements to mobile device consumers.

The complaint amends two petitions filed by the groups in 2006 and 2007 requesting that the FTC create safeguards regulating “behavioral” Internet advertising. CDD and USPIRG’s new concern appears to be the greater immediacy of mobile marketing that comes from the user’s more personal relationship with his or her mobile device, as well as location and tracking information that is unique to wireless.