Senators propose law to limit location tracking

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Two US senators have put forward a bill requiring companies to get permission from mobile users before sharing their locations data with others.

Democrats Al Franken, from Minnesota, and Richard Blumenthal, from Connecticut say their Location Privacy Protection Act would close loopholes in existing law.

"After listening to expert testimony at the hearing I chaired last month on mobile technology and privacy and hearing from anti-domestic violence groups in Minnesota who said this kind of technology can be exploited by abusers, I concluded that our laws do too little to protect information on our mobile devices," says Franken.

"Geolocation technology gives us incredible benefits, 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."

Back in April, Franken wrote to Steve Jobs, expressing concern about the way the company was collecting location data without users' explicit consent. Google's also come under fire for the same issue.

The bill's being supported by a number of groups, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Consumers Union and the National Center for Victims of Crime.

"As smartphone technology continues to advance, it is vitally important that we keep pace with new developments to make sure consumer data is secure from being shared or sold without proper notification to consumers," says Blumenthal.

There's a summary of the bill, here.