NAI To Develop New Location Privacy Standards

Responding to recent privacy crackdowns by the Federal Trade Commission, the self-regulatory organization Network Advertising Initiative said Wednesday it plans to develop new industry guidelines regarding the collection and use of sensitive location data.

The new effort comes around 17 months after the self-regulatory group issued a set of “voluntary” standards that prohibit location analytics companies from collecting, using or sharing data that could reveal people's visits to abortion clinics, homeless shelters, jails or numerous other “sensitive” locales.

Those standards apply only to so-called “location solutions providers" (meaning members that compile and analyze location data that originated from mobile apps) that have agreed to adhere to them.

Since those standards came out, several states have passed new privacy laws and the Federal Trade Commission has reached tentative settlements with two companies -- Outlogic (formerly X-Mode) and InMarket Media -- that allegedly shared consumers' location data.



In both cases, the settlement agreements ban the companies from selling information that could reveal whether people visited sensitive locations. The agreements also ban the companies from collecting precise location data that could reveal visits to non-sensitive locales without consumers' explicit consent.

The settlement agreements also provide that consumers' consent will only be valid if they were informed about the categories of information collected, the reasons for its collection, and the types of entities collecting data, and the entities to whom the information is disclosed.

Additionally, the agreements provide that consumers must have the ability to easily withdraw their consent, and that companies can't degrade services when consumers don't agree to the collection of their location data.

David LeDuc, vice president for public policy at the Network Advertising Initiative, suggests that new standards could largely mirror terms in the FTC's proposed settlements -- particularly around requirements for obtaining consumers' consent.

“I'm not confident that across the industry the consent processes are where they should be,” LeDuc says.

He adds that the FTC agreements are creating “more momentum in the marketplace to rally around a set of best practices.”

LeDuc says the organization hopes to release new voluntary standards within six months.

Next story loading loading..