Lawmakers Get Serious About Limiting Location Data Use

Lora Bentley

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) started asking questions about how wireless providers and online companies use location data in April - as soon as he heard the iPhone and other devices stored the information. Wednesday, he introduced legislation that would limit its use. At the same time, a bipartisan team from the Senate and the House of Representatives introduced legislation addressing law enforcement's use of the data.


According to The Wall Street Journal, Franken's bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), will require companies that collect the data - device makers and app developers alike - to obtain user permission before sharing it with any third party. TG Daily quotes Franken as follows:

[T]he same information that allows emergency responders to locate us when we're in trouble is not necessarily information all of us want to share with the rest of the world.

So he decided to do something about it. Blumenthal echoed that sentiment, noting:

It is vitally important that we keep pace with new developments to make sure consumer data is secure from being shared or sold without proper notification to consumers.

The second bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before requesting location data from a mobile service provider or before tracking their location via a tracking device, the WSJ reports.


If passed, it looks like the law would effectively reverse a decision made in August by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The court found that police did not need a warrant to attach a GPS tracking device to a suspect's vehicle, which was parked in his driveway, and then track his movements and collect evidence against him.

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