Congress Considers How Location-Based Data Is Used

Lora Bentley
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Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

Just as Congress is looking more closely at how Google collected data from unsecured wireless networks and what the company did with that data, the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Liberties will hear testimony Thursday on the collection of users' location-based information by companies like Twitter, Foursquare, and Apple.


According to The Washington Post, the hearing will focus on proposed updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which governs how law enforcement officials access the user information collected by service providers. Writer Cecilia Kang says:

Some Internet and software companies argue that law enforcement authorities routinely request information on users, increasing the possibility of privacy-rights violations and creating a headache for firms that feel pressured to meet those demands.

Those scheduled to testify include University of Pennsylvia associate computer science professor Matthew Blaze, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent Richard Littlehale and Stephen Smith, a U.S. magistrate judge for the southern district of Texas.


The Internet privacy legislation introduced by Reps. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., would also address this issue. It includes a provision requiring service providers to refrain from collecting location-based data on users unless they opt in to the program.

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