The Federal Communications Commission yesterday released a Smartphone Security Checker, a tool designed to help consumers secure their smartphones against mobile security threats. The tool provides consumers with tips that are customized for four different mobile operating systems. Many of tips focus on security-related topics. For instance, the tool recommends that consumers set a password or Personal Identification Number on their phones, accept updates and patches to smartphone software, and wipe phones of personal data before reselling or recycling them.
The FCC also made recommendations that touch on the role of in-app privacy disclosures―a topic that has received attention recently from state regulators and the Federal Trade Commission. Specifically, the FCC recommends that users understand app permissions before accepting them. The FCC says, “You should be cautious about granting applications access to personal information on your phone or otherwise letting the application have access to perform functions on your phone. Make sure to also check the privacy settings for each app before installing.”
While the FCC has not been as active as the FTC and others on mobile privacy issues that do not affect the telephone portion of the mobile service, the FCC’s announcement demonstrates that it continues to see a role for itself in helping “consumers understand and combat cyber threats and mobile device theft.” Earlier this year, the FCC partnered with mobile operators to launch their “PROTECTS Initiative” which was designed to combat mobile device theft and trafficking.