Franken Holding Hearing on Stalking Apps Bill

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the Judiciary Privacy Subcommittee, will hold a hearing Wednesday on his bill to end stalking apps.

In March, Franken reintroduced a location privacy bill, the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014, that would outlaw so-called GPS "stalking apps" and give smart phone users control over very sensitive location information.

The bill also requires companies to get consumers permission—an opt in regime—before collecting location data from smartphones, tablets and other devices. It would also require permission to share that information with third parties.

Witnesses at the hearing are Bea Hanson, Office on Violence Against Women, Department of Justice; Jessica Rich, director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission; Mark Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Sally Greenberg, executive director, National Consumers League; Detective Brian Hill, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigation Division, Andover, Minn.; and Cindy Southworth, VP, development and innovation, National Network to End Domestic Violence.

The bill would:

"Require that companies get individuals’ permission before collecting location data off of their smartphones, tablets, or in-car navigation devices, and before sharing it with others. This rule doesn’t apply to parents tracking kids, emergencies, and similar scenarios;"

"Stymie GPS stalking by preventing companies from collecting location data in secret;"

"Require that any company that collects the location data of 1,000 or more devices publicly disclose the data they’re collecting, what they do with it, who they share it with, and how people can stop that collection or sharing;"

"Ban the development, operation, and sale of GPS stalking apps—and allows law enforcement to seize the proceeds of those sales to fund anti-stalking efforts; and"

"Require that the federal government gather more information about GPS stalking, facilitate reporting of GPS stalking, and prioritize training grants for law enforcement."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.