Senator Al Franken’s bill to ban stalking apps and make companies get permission before collecting and sharing location data, has had its first hearings.
The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014 aims to close legal loopholes that allow apps which let you secretly track someone’s location to exist.
The bill would also require all companies who collect location data – whether from a smartphone, tablet or in-car navigation – to get permission from the consumer before doing so.
Al Franken, Senator for Minnesota and Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, said:
“My bill doesn’t protect just victims of stalking. It protects everyone who uses a smartphone, an in-car navigation device, or any mobile device connected to the Internet.
“My bill makes sure that if a company wants to get your location or give it out to others, they need to get your permission first. I think that we all have a fundamental right to privacy: a right to control who gets your sensitive information, and with whom they share it.”
The bill quotes instances where top apps, like Tinder, operating systems and device makers have been found collecting or sharing location data without users’ affirmative consent.
The bill would also require that companies that collect location data of 1,000 or more devices publicly disclose the data they’re collecting.
They would also have to say what they do with it, who they share the data with, and how users can stop that collection or sharing.
And on June 4th, the bill – which was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2012 – had its very first hearings, with Senator Franken calling witnesses.
They included privacy advocates like Anoka County Detective Brian Hill, and Jessica Rich, the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The bill also has huge support from a range of domestic abuse, and anti-stalking groups.