Al Franken doesn't want mobile app companies to sell your location data without permission

Franken wants mobile app companies to be forthcoming about when they're selling your location data.
Franken wants mobile app companies to be forthcoming about when they're selling your location data.

Al Franken's Location Privacy Protection Act won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, meaning the bill moves to the full Senate for debate.

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"The bill would require companies to get a customer's consent before collecting or sharing mobile location data," The Hill reports. "It would also ban mobile applications that secretly monitor the user's location -- a feature that Franken said allows for stalking and enables domestic violence."

"Location information is extremely sensitive information," Franken said yesterday's hearing, according to Forbes. "Parties with access to this information know what roads you take to work, the church you go to, where you drop your kids at school, and the doctors you go to."

"If a company wants to give your location to third parties, they need your permission," he added.

Via, here's some context about the perceived need for a bill of the sort Franken is pushing:

Both sides of the political aisle agreed that "stalker apps" should be banned. There are not many regulations on applications and what function they may perform. Some argue that applications like ePhoneTracker from Retina Software, performs tasks which are borderline illegal in terms of call monitoring or location tracking. However, the app does serve a purpose for parents who have kids with cell phones. Senator Franken's bill would extend liability to applications like this, but would probably allow a provision for parents who install applications on a child's phone.

Though he ultimately voted to move the bill forward, 79-year-old Twitter-aholic Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expressed concern that forcing app users to opt-in whenever their location data is shared might cause "consumers to revolt" and result in tech companies that currently make their apps available for free charging fees.

"The marketplace surrounding mobile apps... is a complex industry that's still evolving," Grassley said, according to Forbes. "We don't want to take action too quickly that hurts industry."

Grassley probably doesn't have to worry about the full Senate taking action on Franken's bill anytime soon. The Hill reports that with so much work left to be done in Congress between now and the end of the year in hopes of averting the "fiscal cliff," the bill is unlikely to come up for a vote during the current lame-duck session. But Franken is expected to renew his push for the Location Privacy Protection Act when the Senate reconvenes next year.

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