Pinal lawmaker wants to know who’s listening in on cellphones

House Majority Whip Kelly Townsend /Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via PinalCentral

State Rep. Kelly Townsend, whose district includes San Tan Valley, says she knows her phone is watching and listening to her, even when she’s not talking on it.

So now the Mesa Republican wants to force the companies that develop software for phones and computers to disclose up front what they’re collecting and what they’re doing with it.

Her legislation, HB 2524, cleared its first hurdle Wednesday as the House Technology Committee voted 5-2 to make it the law in Arizona for consumers to be told when software has access to the camera or microphone. More to the point, when someone is downloading the software, the user would be informed why data is being collected on them.

Townsend said companies like Facebook do provide that information — but only if you look deep enough into the disclosure that’s provided when the application is being downloaded. Even more difficult, she said, is finding ways to block the software from spying.

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