Stalkers, prepare to be thwarted: Senate passes location privacy bill

The U.S. Senate has just passed a bill that would take the teeth out of online and mobile stalking by creating new rules for location privacy.

The bill, first brought to the Senate by Sen. Al Franken, would keep companies — apps, OS makers, and mobile carriers — from secretly monitoring your location. If the bill becomes law, consumers will have to give consent for any location information can be shared or even collected.

Most reputable applications, such as Google Maps, Foursquare, and Facebook, already take steps to get your consent. But the bill would make that mandatory.

“I believe that Americans have the fundamental right to control who can track their location, and whether or not that information can be given to third parties,” Franken said. “But right now, companies — some legitimate, some sleazy — are collecting your or your child’s location and selling it to ad companies or who knows who else.”

Franken says the practice can lead to or enable stalking and even domestic violence — and the fact that many companies do location-gathering and location-sharing in a way that actually promoted such behavior is something we’ve talked about quite a bit in the past.

The bill was first brought to Congress back in June 2011. A few legislators have expressed concerns about the wording of the bill, but most said they’d be willing to work with Franken to get the bill passed into law.

Here’s the full text of the bill:

S. 1223

Image courtesy of Couperfield, Shutterstock


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