Bill introduced in US Senate to enforce mobile privacy laws on Apple, Google

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies like Apple, as well as application developers for platforms like iOS, to receive express consent from users before collecting or sharing location information.



Franken (D-Minn.) and Blumenthal (D-Conn.) singled out both Apple and Google in a press release sent out Wednesday to announce the new legislation. The bill, called the "Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011," aims to close what the senators view as loopholes in current federal law.



The proposed law would cover both device manufacturers and application developers, and would apply to both smartphones and tablets. The senators said that the new law would ensure consumers know what location information is collected about them, and would allow users to decide if they want the information to be shared.



"Our laws do too little to protect information on our mobile devices,? Franken said in a statement. "Geolocation technology gives us incredible benefits, but the 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.



"This legislation would give people the right to know what geolocation data is being collected about them and ensure they give their consent before it's shared with others."



Franken, who is chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, held a hearing in May that was attended by representatives of both Apple and Google. At that hearing, Apple's vice president of software technology, Bud Tribble, said that Apple does not track users' locations, and does not personally share identifiable information with third parties for marketing purposes without a user's consent.







He also restated what Apple revealed in April: that Apple collects information about the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers to expedite identification of a user's location. This information is anonymously collected with the sole purpose of improving Apple's services.



A file labeled "consolidated.db" gained significant attention when a pair of security researchers discovered that it contained an extensive database of location coordinates in an unsecured file. Apple quickly addressed the issue with an iOS software update.



"This legislation is a strong step toward ensuring that consumers' geolocation information is protected from being collected and stored without their consent," Blumenthaln said in a statement. "As smartphone technology continues to advance, 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 new bill is supported by the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Center for Victims of Crime, National Consumers League, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Women?s Law Center, and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.
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Comments

  • bigmc6000bigmc6000 Posts: 767member
    I'm sorry but I just can't take anything Al Franken says seriously. He really should have just stuck with comedy.
  • rbonnerrbonner Posts: 594member
    Can't wait for the South Park about this! Hunger is OK, but getting caught cheating not OK.
  • sflocalsflocal Posts: 3,455member
    I wish these clowns would do the same with the banking industry, handing my info to every 3rd-party known to man.



    But then, I guess Apple and Google do not bribe enough congressmen like the banks do.
  • z3r0z3r0 Posts: 228member
    Ironic, especially since its coming from big brother.



    Privacy does NOT exist.
  • radster360radster360 Posts: 490member
    Don't we have bigger issue to deal with in this country? This is utter waste of tax payers money. Here are two companies who are innovative, but leave it up to the government to muck it up! Al, go back to SNL - they might need you!
  • wealthychefwealthychef Posts: 48member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies like Apple, as well as application developers for platforms like iOS, to receive express consent from users before collecting or sharing location information.



    OK, so now the EULA will have an extra sentence in it. "By using your iPad you grant Apple and all Apple's business partners the right to collect your information and do whatever we want with it. "
  • fecklesstechguyfecklesstechguy Posts: 501member
    Go figure - and with the tacit support of groups that, while advocating high profile and emotionally charged victim groups, would love nothing better than to be all up in our private stuff if they could.



    Yet another poorly written piece of legislation to give Franken and Blumenthal air time and political cred. Note that the bill is not bipartisan, and most of the supporting orgs are fully enfranchised in the DFL side of the house. These guy need to stop playing politics and start doing some serious bipartisan work. I suppose now we'll get a couple of GOP challengers who will waste our money trying to shoot this down or field a counter bill to emasculate this one.



    Seriously, is anyone else tired of the political polarization and shenanigans?
  • jinglesthulajinglesthula Posts: 234member
    Can anyone clarify on whether this would require more of Apple than they've already added to the OS? Namely, the triangle/arrow indicator in the status bar and the alert that users can allow/deny access to location?



    It sounds like they're just codifying what's already been put in place. thoughts?
  • juanguapojuanguapo Posts: 42member
    I would not say that a bill isn't necessary for a variety of reasons but there's a distinct and total difference between Apple and Google on this.



    Apple's iOS-where-are-you-Gate was a bug, nothing more. It's a scary world when Apple is the only phone/device maker who seems to take privacy more seriously than others.
  • shadashshadash Posts: 470member
    I am very surprised at the objections so far to this proposal. Google's ad-serving relies in part on tracking the user's location. It is just another breach of policy by the company that's not "evil." The use of that information needs to be regulated. If Apple (or more likely, iOS developers) isn't doing anything shady, they have nothing to worry about.



    "Q: Steve,

    Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It's kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don't track me.

    A: Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false.

    Sent from my iPhone"
  • apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,057
  • mchance27mchance27 Posts: 13member
    Apparently they haven't read the Patriot Act, which requires mobile device location tracking.
  • roehlstationroehlstation Posts: 640member
    Yeah, I want congress making laws on Mobile Devices......Too bad it wouldn't have kept that Weiner guy from posting his junk all over Twitter?



    The longer we go with this Debt ceiling uncertainty, the longer it will be before people start hiring again...BTW, cuts in the budget also means job losses not just for the public sector....
  • massconn72massconn72 Posts: 146member
    Richard Blumenthal is an a'hole of the highest order. He has more than once here in Connecticut gone after Apple when some moronic voter cries to him when their iPods battery dies too early, or their dog chews it up and they tell him it should have been able to take it. So he sues. He'll go after anybody he can. He has NEVER seen a camera he didn't like, or a microphone he was afraid of.
  • elijahgelijahg Posts: 445member
    It seems a bit odd that everyone's all up in arms over Apple supposedly tracking users, but Google admitting they track users isn't causing a problem. Seems everyone wants a bite of Apple.
  • prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies like Apple, as well as application developers for platforms like iOS, to receive express consent from users before collecting or sharing location information. ...



    Since this would basically destroy Google's reason for existence, I don't see this ever happening.
  • prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wealthychef View Post


    OK, so now the EULA will have an extra sentence in it. "By using your iPad you grant Apple and all Apple's business partners the right to collect your information and do whatever we want with it. "



    Apple doesn't collect your info without your consent idiot.



    This legislation is aimed straight at Google which *does* collect your info without your consent on almost every product they make and they *do* sell it or give it to third parties as well.
  • apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,057
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    This legislation is aimed straight at Google which *does* collect your info without your consent on almost every product they make and they *do* sell it or give it to third parties as well.



    When loading this very page, 3 things are blocked from within Safari: Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and Tribal Fusion. Almost every single webpage that I visit on the web has some sort of Google analytics which I block. What are they trying to do, track my every movement on the web?
  • crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post


    BTW, cuts in the budget also means job losses not just for the public sector....



    Truth. Just look at the job losses from defense contractors because of defense budget cuts. And Ron Paul wants to cut that budget way, way more than anyone else has called for.
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    When loading this very page, 3 things are blocked from within Safari: Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and Tribal Fusion. Almost every single webpage that I visit on the web has some sort of Google analytics which I block. What are they trying to do, track my every movement on the web?



    Try Ghostery.
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