Yes, we should be afraid of facial-recognition software

My gut instinct is to call Senator Al Franken a well-meaning fool when it comes to his latest outcry — this time against the advent of facial-recognition software — but he actually has a point. Facial-recognition software opens up a whole new class of privacy concerns.

Today in Connected Consumer

Now that the FCC is back up to its full complement of commissioners, following yesterday’s Senate confirmation of Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel, the agency has its full complement of commissioners, pressure is likely to build on the agency to enforce more aggressively the terms of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) lost no time Monday, firing off a letter to both the FCC and the Justice Department, calling out Comcast’s “questionable compliance” with the terms of the agreement concerning placement of channels as well as Comcast’s favorable treatment of its own streaming video services versus competing services. Criticism of Comcast is likely to grow louder, in fact, thanks to posts like this one from Mixed Media Labs CTO Bryan Berg, (h/t Stacey Higginbotham), who ferreted out Comcast’s selective re-setting of priority-classification codes in packets originating from competing streaming services compared to how it treats packets from its own Xfinity service. Streaming Media’s Dan Rayburn reported similar findings in a post on Monday. No official response yet to Franken’s letter from the FCC or Justice.

Sprint leans heavily on Carrier IQ, while AT&T limits use

Though most U.S. operators use Carrier IQ’s handset monitoring software in some form, they’re not all using it to the same degrees. Sprint turns out to be Carrier IQ’s biggest fan, installing its software on half of all devices while AT&T uses it much more sparingly.

Today in Mobile

The fallout from Carrier IQ’s tracking software has been as frenzied as it was predictable: Sprint confirmed that is used data from the app (but only “to help maintain our network performance”), Senator Al Franken officially demanded answers, and Forbes examined how the software may be violating federal wiretap laws. Meanwhile, a small army of handset vendors and network operators are scrambling to disavow any relationship with Carrier IQ. So it may be quite a while before we have any ideas about what information was being tracked, and by whom. But you can be sure that federal regulators and policy-makers will be on the case — for better or worse.

Sen. Al Franken Wants Answers From Steve Jobs

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wants to know why Apple’s iPhone collects and stores device location data in an unencrypted file. Franken penned a two-page letter asking nine questions of Apple CEO Steve Jobs in response to yesterday’s news regarding the “consolidated.db” file.