Groups Urge FCC to Resolve Privacy Concerns in 9-1-1 Indoor Location Rules (1/16/15)
Friday, January 16, 2015 | Comments

Public Knowledge and 16 other organizations sent a letter to the FCC commissioners urging them to consider and resolve privacy concerns when they vote on 9-1-1 wireless location accuracy later this month.

Public Knowledge supports implementation of the FCC’s proposed rules that would allow 9-1-1 dispatchers to know a more precise location of people calling on cellphone while indoors.

The FCC is currently considering a proposal put forward by the wireless carriers and two public safety organizations to improve wireless 9-1-1 location accuracy. However, there are reasonable privacy concerns that have been raised, the groups said. The letter encourages the FCC to implement strong wireless location accuracy rules, but also asks the commissioners to consider and address the privacy implications of these rules before new technology is implemented.

The proposed rules will require development of new location technologies. Addressing privacy concerns at this early stage will ensure that entities required to comply with the E9-1-1 regulations are able to plan privacy protections into the development of those new technologies. Conversely, if the commission does not resolve privacy concerns at this critical stage, it may lose the opportunity to address those concerns before highly precise, privacy threatening location technologies become entrenched without sufficient technical and regulatory protections, the groups said.

The letter urged the FCC to require multiple privacy protections, including:
• A mechanism whereby owners of wireless consumer home products are able to opt out of having their devices included in the national emergency address database;
• System design in which E9-1-1 location functionality can only be triggered through the handset, and not remotely;
• Assurance that technologies designed to comply with E9-1-1 requirements will not be made available to third parties without consumers’ express opt-in consent;
• Assurance that consumers will be able to turn location services on or off via a global setting on their mobile device, as well as grant or deny access to location services to each application; and
• Assurance that information gathered from E9-1-1 technologies is not used by or disseminated to third parties, including government entities.

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