FTC Issues Staff Report on Mobile Commerce Marketplace

For Your Information

The Federal Trade Commission staff has issued a report based upon a public town hall meeting the FTC hosted in May 2008 to explore consumer protection issues arising in the mobile commerce marketplace. The report, “Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace,” includes the following findings:

  • Cost disclosures about mobile services continue to generate consumer complaints. The FTC staff will continue to monitor cost disclosures, bring law enforcement actions as appropriate, and work with industry on improving its self-regulatory enforcement.
  • The FTC and its law enforcement partners should continue to monitor the impact on consumers of unwanted mobile text messages, malware, and spyware, and take law enforcement action as needed. Wireless carriers currently block hundreds of millions of unsolicited text messages every month. The cost to the carriers is substantial, but the cost to consumers of receiving voluminous amounts of unwanted text messages would be far greater. Although spyware and malware have not yet emerged as a significant problem on mobile devices, that situation can change as consumers increasingly use mobile devices for a wide variety of applications, including Internet access. The FTC staff encourages stakeholders to continue developing strategies that prevent or minimize the spread of spam, spyware, and malware on consumers’ mobile devices.
  • The increasing use of smartphones to access the mobile Web presents unique privacy challenges, especially regarding children. The FTC will expedite the regulatory review of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule to determine whether the rule should be modified to address changes in the mobile marketplace. This review, originally set for 2015, instead will begin in 2010 and provide an opportunity for extensive public comment.

The Commission vote to approve issuing the staff report was 4-0.

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