Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)  (Source:
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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