FCC Invites Google, Apple to Location Data “Public Education Forum”

The FCC is throwing its regulatory hat into into the location data collections ring with the announcement of a “public education forum” on the benefits and risks of “Location Based Services,” or LBS. The Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday that it has invited Apple, Google, telecommunications carriers, publica advocacy groups, and others to the event, which will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 28th of this year.

The FCC said that the forum would include information on how LBS works, meaning how the data is collected and how it is used, as well as a look at both the benefits and risks of the technology. The agency said in its announcement that innovations benefitting consumers was occurring because of this technology, but said that privacy concerns needed to be addressed.

“Recent reports have raised concerns about the location-based information that is gathered when consumers use mobile devices,” the agency said in its announcement. “While the use of location data has spurred innovation, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan recognizes that consumer apprehension about privacy can also act as a barrier to the adoption and utilization of broadband and mobile devices.”

Other topics in the forum will include “consumer DOs and DON’Ts,” as well as information aimed specifically at parents about how how location tracking on their kids’ mobile devices.

The FCC is also working on a staff report on the topic of LBS, and the announcement stipulated that information from the public forum, as well as from any public comments received ahead of the forum, will inform that staff report. The public comment period ends June 8th.

This is the third federal-level hearing related to location data tracking and collection announced since news first started making headlines in April about Google’s and Apple’s data collection practices. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) held a Senate hearing on May 10th, and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) announced a hearing on the subject to be held June 19th.