CDD Wants FTC Involved In AT&T-Mobile Vetting

The Center for Digital Democracy wants to make sure the Federal Trade Commission is to be involved in the vetting of the proposed $39 billion AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

AT&T has submitted the proposed deal to justice for review, and is expected to file it with the FCC next week. Justice and the FCC usually decide among themselves which will review a merger, but CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester wants the FTC involved regardless.

According to a copy of a letter Chester plans to send to the chairmen of the FTC, FCC and key lawmakers, he says there are key privacy and consumer protection issues.

"Mobile and location marketing are quickly reshaping the digital landscape, unleashing a powerful data collection and hyper-local targeting system," he says, "By combining both the subscriber and 'mobile Web' actions of its 130 million subscribers, a combined AT&T and T-Mobile will be able to harvest and act upon deep insights gleaned from their users' behaviors, location, spending patterns, and social actions."

Among the issues Chester wants the agencies to look at are storage of consumer data in the "cloud" and how data flows and is captured from users, apps and marketers. "We want the FTC involved--not just FCC and DoJ--to ensure the privacy and mobile consumer protection issues are addressed," Chester told B&C/Multichannel.

CDD filed a complaint about mobile marketing and privacy at the FTC in 2009. The FTC is currently working on a report about online privacy and recommendations on what changes, if any, to make to online child privacy protection laws.

Chester has been a leading voice for more government involvement in online marketing and information control issues, long arguing that is the next big media concentration battleground.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.