Senate Bill Requires Permission to Collect & Share Location Data

A new U.S. Senate bill called the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011 would require “Companies like Apple and Google,” as well app makers, to obtain express content from users of mobile devices “like smartphones and tablets” to both collect and share location data from them. Submitted by Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the bill comes in the aftermath of a hearing held by Sen. Franken on privacy concerns relating to location data and consumer privacy.

“Geolocation technology gives us incredible benefits,” the senator said in a statement, “but the same information that allows emergency responders to locate us when we’re in trouble is not necessarily information all of us want to share with the rest of the world. This legislation would give people the right to know what geolocation data is being collected about them and ensure they give their consent before it’s shared with others.”

According to Senator Franken, the Act would close loopholes in current federal law that allows this information to be collected and shared without permission. In a one-page summary of the bill, the senator described it as a “narrowly focused” bill to address the loopholes.

Senator Franken has been heavily involved with issues relating to consumer privacy, and he chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, the subcommittee he used to convene hearing on the issue that were attended by Apple, Google, and others. He has also written letters to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and others about privacy.

Senator Blumenthal held his own hearing on the subject, as well.

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