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Privacy issues Edit
Some consumers and privacy rights groups worry that the ability to identify a wireless customer’s location could lead to further erosion of individual privacy. Although the E911 requirements apply only to calls made from mobile telephones seeking emergency assistance, once that capability is available, many worry that such information will be collected and sold for other purposes, such as marketing. Some observers point out that wireless carriers may be motivated to sell such customer data to recoup the costs of deploying wireless E911.
Users of wireless devices such as pagers, personal digital assistants, or automobile-based services such as OnStar, might be affected along with mobile telephone customers. A major concern is that if location information is available to commercial entities, a wireless customer walking or driving along the street may be deluged with unsolicited advertisements from nearby restaurants or stores alerting them to merchandise available in their establishments. Supporters of unsolicited advertising insist that consumers benefit from directed advertisements because they are more likely to offer products in which the consumer is interested. They also argue that advertising is protected by the First Amendment.
One aspect of this concern is that companies could build profiles of consumers using data collected over a period of time. In that context, one question is whether limits should be set on the length of time location information can be retained. Some argue that once a 911 call has been completed, or after a subscriber to a location-based service received the desired information (such as directions to the nearest restaurant), that the location information should be deleted. Wireless spam was addressed by Congress in the CAN-SPAM Act, although it does not focus specifically on the location aspects of the issue.