To explore new developments in mobile technology and their impact on mobile commerce ("M-commerce"), the Federal Trade Commission held a public town hall meeting on May 6 and 7, 2008. This town hall meeting, titled "Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace" ("Mobile Town Hall") followed the FTC's November 2006 forum — "Protecting Consumers in the Next Tech-ade" ("Tech-ade"). Tech-ade participants examined key technological and business developments that will shape consumers' experiences and, thus, consumer protection policy, over the following decade. The FTC's Mobile Town Hall provided the Commission an opportunity for a more in-depth exploration of topics relating to M-commerce.
The Mobile Town Hall reflects the Commission's long-standing interest in educating itself and the public about mobile devices and technology, as well as its interest in ensuring that consumer protection policy is current and relevant.
- Session One panelists addressed the mobile marketplace in the United States. The speakers discussed: (1) the contours of the current mobile marketplace; and (2) factors affecting the adoption of new mobile applications.
- Session Two panelists provided an in-depth look at mobile messaging. Specifically, panelists described: (1) commercial uses of mobile messaging; and (2) consumer protection issues raised by premium rate and unsolicited mobile messaging.
- Session Three panelists distinguished mobile devices from personal computers (“PC”) and provided an overview of how mobile devices are becoming powerful tools for consumers.
- Session Four panelists addressed location-based services. The panelists discussed: (1) currently available location-based technologies and services; (2) privacy and security issues implicated by the widespread deployment of location-enabled mobile devices; and (3) the responsibility of industry to provide clear notice to and obtain consent from consumers regarding the use of consumer location data.
- Session Five panelists addressed the transition and adaptation of advertising and marketing to mobile devices with particular focus on: (1) the current status of mobile advertising in the United States; (2) associated consumer protection and privacy concerns; and (3) predictions regarding the future of mobile advertising.
- Session Six panelists discussed: 1) mechanisms available to consumers to control their mobile devices and the applications that run on those devices; 2) the methods by which consumers are made aware of mobile controls; and 3) recommendations for improving consumer awareness of, and the effectiveness of, mobile controls.
- Session Seven panelists addressed the challenges associated with mobile marketing to children and teens, and methods to help parents manage their children’s mobile devices.
- Session Eight panelists addressed the state of industry-developed best practices in the areas of billing, disclosures to consumers, complaint handling, and dispute resolution.
- Session Nine panelists addressed the risks to, and vulnerabilities of, mobile phones to various threats — current and future — as well as precautions consumers can take to protect themselves. The panelists discussed: 1) the stakeholders in the mobile security sphere; 2) mobile security threats and the data at risk from such threats; and 3) the security implications of open platform development, mobile phone recycling, and contactless payments via mobile phones.
- in December 2000, the Commission held a workshop, titled "The Mobile Wireless Web, Data Services and Beyond: Emerging Technologies and Consumer Issues." At that workshop, panelists provided information about nascent wireless technologies and their effect on privacy, security, advertising and disclosures, and industry self-regulatory programs.
- Panelists’ PowerPoint presentations are available here. Comments are available here.