Wednesday, December 05, 2012

(BN) Location-Tracking Apps Would Need Permission in U.S. Bill

Smartphones, mobile applications and in-car navigation devices would be required to get permission from consumers before collecting and sharing location data under a bill to be considered by a Senate committee this week.

Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who introduced the measure last year, released a revised version today that would let companies get one-time approval from users rather than seeking permission every time location data is collected or shared. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the measure on Thursday.

Franken, the chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law, is one of several lawmakers who have focused on how technology companies collect information on the location of users and share that data with third parties including advertisers and data brokers.

Franken held a hearing on mobile privacy last year with executives from Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG), following a report that the operating system of Apple's iPhones and iPads logged users' coordinates along with the time a location is visited. Apple later issued a software update to limit how much location information was being logged or let users turn off the feature.

The revisions by Franken contain additional language specifying that restrictions don't apply to law enforcement. The measure is co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Chris Coons of Delaware, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Dianne Feinstein of California, and independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved a bill that requires authorities to get a search warrant to obtain older e-mails, updating a 1986 privacy law that in some cases lets police get access to e-mails that are more than 180 days old without a judge's permission.

The Franken bill is S. 1223.

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