On Tuesday, November 10, U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) reintroduced legislation that would ban GPS location tracking applications. The legislation goes much further, however. It also would require companies to get consumers’ permission before collecting location data off their smartphones, tablets, or in-car navigation devices, and it would also require permission before sharing location information with third parties.
GPS location tracking applications, which currently are legal, enable users to locate someone by tracking the GPS data from their phone. The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2015 would stop the development, operation, and sale of these apps. The law also would require that any company that collects the location data of 1,000 or more devices publicly disclose the data they are collecting, what they do with it, who they share it with, and how people can stop that collection or sharing. Additionally, the law would require that the federal government gather more information about GPS location apps, facilitate reporting of the use of such apps, and prioritize training grants for law enforcement.
According to Senator Franken, the “legislation doesn’t just protect victims of stalking, it would also give consumers more control over their very sensitive location data, allowing them to decide which companies can collect and share their location.” The bill’s co-sponsors are Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ed Markey (D-MA). A similar bill introduced by Franken last year never moved in Congress.