U.S. Senate Democrats Franken, Blumenthal introduce mobile privacy bill

“Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) unveiled a bill Wednesday that would require firms such as Apple and Google along with app developers to obtain consent before collecting or sharing consumers’ location data,” Gautham Nagesh reports for The Hill.

“The bill would require firms to get customers’ expressed consent before collecting location data from their smartphones or mobile devices,” Nagesh reports. “Any firm that obtains location data from more than 5,000 mobile devices must take reasonable steps to protect and delete that data if requested by the customer.”

“Franken raised the issue at his first hearing as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Privacy subpanel last month, where he pressed representatives from Apple and Google on reports their smartphone platforms were storing and transmitting user location data. Both firms denied tracking consumers,” Nagesh reports. “Franken subsequently wrote to both firms asking them to require clear privacy policies from all apps sold for their platforms. Both firms have said no user information is shared without their consent, but Franken’s legislation would make that pledge mandatory.”

Nagesh reports, “The Justice Department would likely be in charge of enforcement.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. Seems fair to me, but this would have to be a one-time agreement. It’s not practical to have to sign a release or even confirm a message every time an iPhone reads it’s location.

  2. As a consumer, if I opt out and don’t allow the vendor to “track” my location, does 911 still work? Doesn’t the 911 law require them to track my location, and now this one requires them not to. Which law should they follow?

    1. I’m sure they will have to follow the regs concerning the 911 requirements. There were two pieces of legislation that covered that.

      I didn’t read anything about it, so I have to wonder if the 911 requirements were brought up in Franken’s hearings. Someone should have brought them up.

      Political leaders (among a lot of people) don’t appear to understand that there are limits to knowledge and technology. Either that, or they have let power and position go to their heads and believe that just because they legislate (demand) something, somehow it will be made so.

      I’m more inclined to believe the latter, and think our elected representatives are way, way overdue for some reality checks.

      I will be surprised if there is not going to be some conflict (due to tech limitations) in trying to meet the terms of Franken’s legislation and those mandated by 911 regs.

  3. what about publishers who get our data – we don’t have much choice if we want to subscribe – and then sell it? just because that is older-fashioned technology doesn’t make it right because we have gotten used to it.

    1. One of the problems with a lot of privacy legislation is that some information that people consider private is nothing of the sort.

      One example, depending on whether or not you own a home, is where you live. Real estate ownership is a matter of public records that anyone can access.

      Another example, as determined by the courts, is that when you are out in public you can have no expectation of privacy.

      No doubt there are many other examples.

  4. Government oversight programs don’t come free. Money is always attached and committee’s are formed, your tax dollars at work.

    Sorry, but I law abiding or companies that care about the customer will do what is right by their customers in fear of losing them. This bill in no way will stop bad companies or those who wish to abuse this information from doing it.

    Another tax to to the consumer which will do absolutely no good except line the pockets of corrupt politician.

    All this to get themselves reelected. A toothless bill.

    1. Somehow, Google is a law abiding company that you speak of and says they care about customers but are ripping your identity off and selling it without telling you. Google has been caught several times with their paws in the cookie jar and this bill though perhaps needing tweaking, is designed to prevent companies from taking advantage of your personal info.

      Don’t forget, private companies rape customers al the time (Savings & Loan industry come to mind? ENRON??) and the government comes in to fix things when necessary. Sorry you don’t like the U.S. government but they are protecting people’s buns more than you appreciate.

    2. Explain how this is a tax. Every time someone proposes legislation you got people frothing at the mouth herp derp taxes taxes.

      Please, please explain how this is a tax. From where I stand, it’s a default setting. Didn’t know those cost so much.

  5. Maybe those below 30 have no expectation of digital privacy, but most of us over 30 do & some day you probably will as well.

    There has been a steady erosion of our rights due to the GWOT, The Drug War and the Internet Age. Police agencies from local to national have been breaking the law, skirting the law on technicalities, pushing for ever more intrusive practices and still want ever more.

    Data mining by private firms for profit should be outlawed completely unless prior consent is granted and the police should be kept on a very short and tight leash. The national security state won’t be happy until they know what color condom you use.

    Woz thinks this is a big issue and has long supported the EFF & EPIC- 2 organizations working to protect our rights in this brave new world & he is not alone. From seizing computing devices at the border to statecops in Michigan wirelessly scanning your cell phone, the tail is wagging the dog.

    1. Thank you RDF. Most of the sheep that post on this site do not function as adults. Living in mom’s basement takes it’s toll on the kook-aid drinkers. But their parents understand privacy and legislation too.

  6. All it will ever mean is one more legalese term added to the EULA list that everyone already overlooks when they click “OK” to begin. How anyone could be upset over this and not the roughshod trampling of their privacy right following 911 is beyond me. It’s a plain farce.

    Americans really need to stop electing brainless puppet actors to powerful places. In the end the whole world’s population pays needlessly for their gullibility.

  7. Don’t these bozos in Washington have enough to do without getting involved in something that works just fine? If not, maybe they need some time off.

    Like about 6 months.

    Without pay.

    (And, BTW, as a Republican, I can only say that I’m surprised that McCain was not a co-sponsor of the bill.)

    1. I agree that this isn’t the biggest issue to be spending time on.
      The House & Senate chambers should be filled, the roll called and nobody allowed to leave until the budget and debt ceiling are addressed.
      One of the many reasons the markets are in the shape they are in is the uncertainty over the circus going on around the debt ceiling and the budget.

      Congress has yet to pass a budget for a fiscal year that ends September 30- less than 4 months from now. Imagine the sideshow for the 2012 budget as it will be an election year…

      1. You’re assuming both political parties intend to act in good faith to solve our nation’s problems. In fact the republicans are on record as stating their #1 priority is to prevent Obama from being reelected (see McConnell et al). Not jobs, not the debt, not the economy. Political success is Job One. And before you say “well, conservatives just disagree with Obama’s policies and republicans think they have a better plan for economic recovery,” consider the incentives. Who benefits electorally 2012 if the economy is improving? Obama. Conversely, who gets blamed electorally if the economy has not improved (or is worse)? Not the republicans running against Obama. Their political benefit is enormous if the economy is doing badly (of course, not for them personally because politicians as a rule have lots of money, healthcare, retirement, security, etc as do everyone they know who are important campaign contributors). So they have nothing to gain politically and only stand to lose if things actually improve. The lack of progress on the budget and unemployment is COMPLETELY INTENTIONAL on the republican side. Americans need to recognize the republican’s electoral strategy is intrinsically tied to no compromise, no recovery, maximum fear and uncertainty (cue fox network…).

        If you are supporting or contributing to republicans in the next few years, make no mistake, you are betting on more economic misery for 99% of working American families. To be fair, a disappointingly large number of clueless democrats are echoing the republican talking points.

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