Congress Wakes up to Phone Apps that Track Your Life

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Lawmakers in Congress are debating whether to restrict applications on mobile phones that record virtually every move that consumers make.

 

Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has introduced legislation that would require app developers to get permission at least once from users before recording the locations of their mobile devices. The bill also would prohibit so-called stalking apps that allow one person to track another person’s whereabouts without them knowing it.

 

A third provision in the measure would mandate that mobile services reveal the names of the advertising networks or other third parties with which they share consumers’ locations.

 

Franken says his privacy bill is needed to prevent companies from creating a precise profile of consumers’ family connections and professional associations, as well as political and religious beliefs and even health status.

 

“Someone who has this information doesn’t just know where you live,” Franken told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “They know the roads you take to work, where you drop your kids off at school, the church you attend and the doctors that you visit.”

 

Marketers have countered that they need to know where consumers are so they can show them relevant mobile ads or coupons once they are in or near a store.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Their Apps Track You. Will Congress Track Them? (by Natasha Singer, The New York Times)

Hundreds of Apps for Children Collect Their Private Information without Alerting Parents (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Hidden Software on Millions of Phones Logs Everything a User Does (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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