Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) recently introduced the Location Privacy Protection Act, which would require that companies obtain users’ consent before collecting or sharing geolocation data.
The Act would “close current loopholes in federal law,” according to a press release issued by Sen. Franken, and would mandate that companies also delete users’ data upon request. Companies that receive location information from more than 5,000 mobile devices would also be required to “take reasonable steps to protect that information from reasonably foreseeable threats” under the proposed legislation.
The Act would apply only to nongovernmental entities and would have no impact on law enforcement activities.
Notably, the Act allows consumers to bring private civil suits with damages of at least $2,500 per violation and to seek punitive damages and attorneys’ fees where warranted.
The bill also calls upon the National Institute of Justice to study the use of location technology in relation to dating and domestic violence and stalking, and requests that the U.S. Attorney General develop a training curriculum for the investigation and prosecution of crimes involving the misuse of geolocation data.
Finally, the law would establish criminal penalties for “stalking apps” that “knowingly and intentionally” disclose geolocation with the intent that stalking will occur as a result of the disclosure, as well as the “knowing and intentional aggregation and sale” of location data of children 10 years old and younger.
To read the text of the Act, click here.
Why it matters: Privacy, specifically geographical location information, has been a hot topic in Washington recently. A second bill, the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, was introduced the same day by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Ut.) that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain probable cause warrants to track location-using mobile devices (with limited exceptions for emergency responders, parents of minor children, and investigations under the Patriot Act). In addition to the two new pieces of legislation, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act also addresses geolocation data.