• At least two privacy bills are expected to be introduced this year in Congress. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has indicated that he soon will introduce a bill that would require law enforcement to demonstrate probable cause and obtain a warrant in order to track an individual’s location through GPS and mobile phone devices. In discussing the bill, Wyden said, “I think that a lot of people have not really put their arms around the dimensions of this, the fact that everybody’s got a handheld electronic device, a cell phone, a GPS system. Everybody’s carrying them around everywhere and probably aren’t thinking that much about the fact that someone may be keeping tabs on them.” Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., has indicated that he plans to reintroduce an online privacy bill that he introduced last year and that had won support from some tech firms, including eBay, Microsoft and Intel. Rush’s bill would allow website owners to use information collected about users as long as they provide clear notice about the information being collected and its intended use. The bill would also require site owners to give consumers an opportunity to “opt out” from having their online information used. In addition, the bill would authorize the FTC to approve a self-regulatory program for companies covered by the legislation and allow those companies to obtain a safe harbor from some of the bill’s provisions.
  • Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Ed Markey, D-Mass., Co-Chairs of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, have asked Facebook for more information about the company’s plan to make “users’ addresses and mobile phone numbers available to third-party websites and applications developers,” a decision that the company now will postpone while it considers the best way to implement the plan. The letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asked “what user information will be shared with third party application developers” and what features will be available to ensure users’ privacy. The letter also questioned whether Facebook has provided adequate notice to its users about its plans to make this information available to third parties and what risks that the new feature could pose to children and teenagers. Reps. Barton and Markey previously sought information from Facebook about the collection and dissemination of personally identifiable information by various third-party applications.