US Lawmakers Call for Controversial New Smartphone Laws

As it turns out, all the high-profile senate hearings on mobile security and consumer privacy weren’t just exercises in political grandstanding.

Ahead of this weekend, several members of a prominent US Senate subcommittee are issuing their recommendations to Congress that new laws protecting wireless subscribers should be passed without haste.

Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) want to see the introduction of a bill regulating consumer privacy across smartphones and the web.

The senators argue that the regulation is essential to block the practice – accidental or otherwise – of gathering and sharing personal user data.

Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., along with the thousands of developers who make applications for their platforms, are facing increasing scrutiny from Congress over how they collect, use and store customer information, including data gathered from smartphones and other wireless devices.

“These devices are not really phones–they are miniature computers,” said Rockefeller, chair of the Commerce Committee. “The mobile marketplace is so new, and technology is moving so quickly that many consumers do not understand the privacy implications of their actions.”

According to Bloomberg News, Rockefeller is looking for concrete evidence and examples to validate that Apple and Google have applications on their mobile platforms that are in compliance with online privacy laws regarding children.

On Thursday, Catherine Novelli, vice president of worldwide government affairs for Apple, told lawmakers that the iPhone maker “doesn’t knowingly collect any information on children under age 13.”