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Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)  (Source: washingtonpost.com)
The act aims to force app companies to receive user consent before collecting mobile location information

It's no secret that some applications collect location information about its users (sometimes secretly), and a new bill that's looking to stop that is gaining traction.

The Location Privacy Protection Act, which was proposed by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

The act aims to force app companies to receive user consent before collecting mobile location information. By doing so, it should protect user privacy and prevent issues like stalking.

"I believe that Americans have the fundamental right to control who can track their location, and whether or not that information can be given to third parties," said Franken. "But right now, companies -- some legitimate, some sleazy -- are collecting your or your child's location and selling it to ad companies or who knows who else."

Earlier this week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the results of a study it conducted in regards to children's apps collecting user data. According to the study, which followed 400 children's apps currently available in Apple's App Store and the Google Play store for Android, about 60 percent of them collected and transmitted information about the device to developers. Out of that 60 percent, only 20 percent gave a disclaimer about their data collection.

The FTC is now pushing for greater transparency when it comes to data collection from apps.
It added that other app-related issues, like in-app advertising and in-app purchasing, needs to be reviewed and corrected in children's apps as well.

“We haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job.”

Tech giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft have been targeted in cases where users did not give consent for location tracking. For instance, in September 2011, Microsoft was sued for its camera software on the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 operating system, which had been allegedly tracking the location of its mobile users -- even after they request that the tracking software be turned off. Apple's iPhone and iPad were caught in a similar situation where a pair of security researchers discovered that Apple not only tracks its iPhone and iPad users' every move, but it stores that information in a local file.

Source: The Hill



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Win for the people ?
By michael67 on 12/16/2012 5:11:52 AM , Rating: -1
Wonder if this is a real win or a paper win for consumers.

How hard will they punish App developers that not follow the law, and who is responsible, can they even hold someone responsible if he lives in India or Russia.

For me personally, i think the platform owner should be responsible(*), as he can do much more to prevent unwanted behavior of apps, by just banishing them from the OS, or only allow access through opt-in.

Any other way is domed to fail i am afraid.

(*)Apple, Google, MS, BB and how ever else makes a platform.




RE: Win for the people ?
By StevoLincolnite on 12/16/2012 10:29:37 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
How hard will they punish App developers that not follow the law, and who is responsible, can they even hold someone responsible if he lives in India or Russia.


Don't see why not.
The united states already extradites people for downloading a song or movie illegally in other countries and throws them in jail for 10-15 years, even if they have never set foot in the USA.

Besides, the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only constitutes 5% of the world’s total population, so whats a few more into that number? (That's sarcasm by the way.)


RE: Win for the people ?
By nocturne on 12/18/2012 12:31:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The united states already extradites people for downloading a song or movie illegally in other countries and throws them in jail for 10-15 years, even if they have never set foot in the USA.

When has this happened..?


RE: Win for the people ?
By drycrust3 on 12/16/2012 10:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
How hard will they punish App developers that not follow the law,

Well, they can remove all the apps a particular developer has made from the application library. In fact, they may well have to because that developer would be of "ill-repute", and to keep their apps on the platform would count against the platform.
I can't understand why people need your location at all for so many apps anyway. For example, say you want a builder's level, what do you see? "GPS location - fine"! Or an internet radio streamer - "GPS location - fine"! Why do you need it at all? Sure, you need it for stuff like mapping software and satellite location software, but there are a ton of apps out there where there is no obvious need for it and that want to collect this stuff.


RE: Win for the people ?
By MadMan007 on 12/16/2012 12:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
It may not be the app itself that uses the location data, but if it's ad-supported the ad service want location data for targeted ads. That's the most straightforward answer I can think of.


RE: Win for the people ?
By Solandri on 12/16/2012 2:57:27 PM , Rating: 2
Someone needs to come up with an app which sends spoofed location data to the apps which aren't white-listed. So your GPS navigation app will show you your correct location. But your game app will think you're in Antarctica.


RE: Win for the people ?
By ascian5 on 12/16/2012 9:01:11 PM , Rating: 3
If you are on a Jailbroken iOS device, there is. It's called PMP or ProtectmMy Privacy. Also protects device ID, contacts and perhaps more by now. Haven't looked into it yet for Android.


RE: Win for the people ?
By mmatis on 12/16/2012 11:27:59 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, I care less about companies using this than I do about governments doing so. And you ought to understand that governments, ESPECIALLY the United States, are requiring this capability be made available to their "Law Enforcement" on demand, WITHOUT any warrants.


RE: Win for the people ?
By Uncle on 12/16/2012 7:02:58 PM , Rating: 2
Well you can always shut your gps off or get rid of your toy, and wait till they give you an implant.


RE: Win for the people ?
By mmatis on 12/17/2012 7:12:55 AM , Rating: 2
My "dumb" phone does not have GPS, and has a removable battery. Have no intention of getting any phone without those features.


RE: Win for the people ?
By Dr of crap on 12/17/12, Rating: 0
RE: Win for the people ?
By MadMan007 on 12/16/2012 9:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
Funny you should say that...when I read this article I thought 'Yeah, only the US Government wants to be able to track people without their knowledge.'


RE: Win for the people ?
By nocturne on 12/18/2012 12:39:18 AM , Rating: 1
Why so much doom and gloom..?

FWIW, this is just an affirmation of what MS has already done in recent browser iterations as well as windows 8.. Fault them all you want, they always take security seriously.

I think you guys have been watching way too much tv.. Nobody can just access gps info on your phone without a software path to send it through (gps is a one way path -- ping the positioning satellites to triangulate your position) -- including the government.

Without app-level restrictions in the OS, though, it all becomes superfluous. Which is exactly what this law aims to fix.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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