On March 27, 2014, Senator Al Franken (D.-Minn.) introduced the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014, a bill that addresses so-called “stalking apps.” While Senator Franken’s intent is to target those apps designed to maliciously track individuals without their knowledge, the legislation (an updated version of a bill we discussed three years ago) would require all companies to get users’ permission before collecting and sharing location data from smartphones, tablets, and in-car navigation devices. To obtain consent, entities subject to the law (if passed) would have to provide “clear, prominent, and accurate notice” that tells the user that his or her geolocation information will be collected. The notice must also identify the categories of entities to which the geolocation information may be disclosed, and provide a link or some other easy means for users to access publicly available information about the geolocation data to be collected. The bill includes several exceptions to the consent requirement, allowing the collection or use of geolocation data without the requisite notice and consent for purposes such as allowing parents to locate children, and enabling the provision of emergency services.
Under the proposed legislation, companies collecting geolocation data from more than 1,000 devices in a year would have to maintain a public web site that describes the nature of the geolocation information that is collected, the purposes for which the data is used and disclosed, the specific entities to which the information is disclosed, and how a user might revoke consent to such collection and disclosure. The bill would authorize the Attorney General, in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission, to issue implementing regulations and contemplates both civil actions brought by the Attorney General and private rights of action.
In addition, the bill bans the development and distribution of GPS “stalking apps” and criminalizes the knowing and willful disclosure of geolocation data in aid of interstate domestic violence or stalking.
The text of the bill, which is co-sponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D.-Del.) and Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.), is available here, while a summary of key points from Franken’s office is available here.