Privacy Bills Advance In Illinois

Unlike their federal counterparts, lawmakers in Illinois apparently see a need for online privacy rules.

State legislators today advanced two measures that could impose new restrictions on a broad array of businesses, including online publishers, app developers, social networking services and ad-tech companies.

The Geolocation Privacy Protection Act would require app developers, ad networks and other businesses to obtain people's opt-in consent before collecting or disclosing information about people's physical locations.



The Right to Know Act requires Google, Facebook and other Web companies that collect personally identifiable information to disclose their data-sharing practices to users. (That bill reportedly was initially sponsored by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart -- well-known for battling online classifieds service over prostitution ads.)

The Illinois House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & IT Committee voted Thursday to approve both bills, but will allow amendments. The lawmakers' vote came over the opposition of business groups like the Internet Association (whose members include Google, Amazon, eBay and Facebook) and NetChoice (which also counts many Silicon Valley companies as members).

Illinois previously passed a bill that restricts the collection of biometric data, including fingerprints, retinal scans and "faceprints." The Biometric Information Privacy Act, passed in 2008, requires companies to obtain written releases from people before collecting “face geometry” and other biometric data. The measure also obligates companies that gather biometric data to notify people about the practice, and to publish a schedule for destroying the information.

Facebook and Google both face lawsuits accusing them of violating that law by creating a database of faceprints.

Illinois isn't the only state considering new privacy laws. Lawmakers in Montana, Alaska, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Washington have introduced measures to regulate the collection and use of biometric data.

Additionally, legislators in Nevada recently introduced a geolocation privacy bill that would require companies to obtain people's opt-in consent before tracking their locations.

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