Representative Edward Markey released data on Monday from the largest mobile phone companies in the United States showing more than 1.3 million requests by law enforcement agencies for cell phone records in 2011.
Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. carrier, reported an annual 15 percent spike in requests, and No. 4 carrier T-Mobile USA said it has seen a 12 percent to 16 percent increase each year.
“We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers,” said Markey, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack?”
Website operators may soon be forced under planned new British laws to reveal the identity of those who post defamatory comments on their forums, a move that aims to protect victims by speeding up what is often a lengthy and expensive legal process.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the proposed approach would give greater protection to operators who complied with the procedure, ahead of Tuesday’s second reading in Parliament of the Defamation Bill.
“As the law stands, individuals can be the subject of scurrilous rumour and allegation on the web with little meaningful remedy against the person responsible,” said Clarke in a statement.
“The government wants a libel regime for the Internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that information online can’t be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.”
READ MORE: Internet trolls face tough new rules in UK
Apps must now have explicit approval before accessing address book data
Under pressure from U.S. legislators, Apple Inc moved Wednesday to quell a swelling privacy controversy by saying that it will begin to require iPhone and iPad apps to seek “explicit approval” in separate user prompts before accessing users’ address book data.
Apple’s move came shortly after two members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee requested the company to provide more information about its privacy policies. Bloggers, in recent days, have published findings that some of the most popular software applications in Apple’s App Store have been able to lift private address book data without user consent.
“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” an Apple spokesman told Reuters. “We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”