Intel Drafts Privacy License for Mobile Device Software

On the heels of Microsoft’s recent release of privacy guidelines for software developers, here’s an excellent example of another company working with privacy scholars to try to protect end-user privacy when using location-based mobile devices. From ComptuerWorld:

Intel Drafts Privacy License for Mobile Device Software

Intel Corp. has attached a privacy license to its new location-aware software product, intended to protect cell phone users’ personal information as mobile devices increasingly rely on tracking technology to provide targeted services.

Installed on a smart phone or ultramobile PC, location-aware software can use GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to produce tailored information like driving directions, nearby restaurants and movie schedules. The downside of that feature is that handsets can double as tracking devices if location data is not kept private. The abuse of such access could range from civil liberties violations to physical threats in the cases of vulnerable people like battered spouses, Intel fears.

So, Intel has added a privacy addendum to the Eclipse Public License it uses for the software application called Privacy Observant Location System (POLS), according to a posting on Intel’s Web site by John Miller, the privacy and security policy manager of Intel’s corporate technology group.

The addendum says that vendors must inform the end-user what information is recorded and how long it is stored, and it requires developers to include opt-out capability so users can change those settings, Miller said.


Intel built this value-conscious design/policy feature by working with the Value Sensitive Design Research Lab at the University of Washington, the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, and other academics and lawyers.

The challenge, of course, will be enforcement of the policy. As the folks at Intel acknowledge:

Intel faces a continuing challenge as it must convince developers to abide by its privacy initiative. The new addendum is useless if software developers don’t obey it, so the company has begun a campaign to build support in the open-source community. Intel has asked members of the Open Source Initiative to refine and adopt the policy as an acceptable amendment to the OSI’s standard open-source license, and made available to the open-source community at large.

“We believe that a bottoms-up effort to encourage the development of privacy-sensitive social norms is necessary, and in fact critical, for both privacy and public adoption of the technology,” Miller said. “We post this information here with the hope that others will see value in this approach.”

[via Pogo Was Right]

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