Franken Presses For Location Privacy Bill

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is renewing a push for legislation aimed at prohibiting companies from collecting data about consumers' locations without their explicit consent.

The bill is framed as an anti-stalking measure, but would also affect app developers who collect geolocation data for ad purposes. "My legislation doesn’t just protect victims of stalking, it would also give consumers more control over their very sensitive location data, allowing them to decide which companies can collect and share their location," Franken said in a statement

The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2015, which Franken reintroduced this week, requires that companies obtain opt-in consent before collecting or sharing location data collected from people's smartphones, tablets or cars. The measure also provides that companies collecting location data from at least 1,000 devices publicly disclose what data they amass, who it is shared with, and how people can prevent their data from being gathered and shared.

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Franken first unveiled a location-privacy bill in 2011. The measure passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2012, but didn't gain enough traction to become law. Since then, Apple has taken some steps to prevent companies from tracking the locations of iPhone and iPad users. Last year, Apple changed its operating system's WiFi scanning feature so that it broadcasts random 12-digit "media access control" identifiers -- instead of permanent ones -- when users turn on WiFi or Bluetooth. That move prevents analytics companies from tracking brick-and-mortar shoppers via their smartphones.

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