updated 04:50 pm EDT, Wed June 15, 2011
Senators propose location consent bill
Democrat Senators Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday put forward a bill that would require explicit consent for geolocation data. Apple, Google, and others with more than 5,000 devices on the market would have to both ask permission as well as take steps to shield the data and delete it once it's no longer needed. Franken argued legislation was necessary since there was a distinct difference between location info for a 911 call and the kind that could be used to stalk someone or leak data to third-party marketers.
The Department of Justice would most likely be the one to enforce the laws rather than regular courts.
Franken has been a key architect of mobile privacy initiatives and conducted Senate hearings in addition to making personal requests with Apple and Google to have them enshrine consent in their policies.
Apple has said that it never takes location data directly from the phone, requires consent for individual apps, and has only used a small cache of anonymized data for a crowd-sourced database that many suspect could be used for traffic data. Google has said it requires consent for every location activity and lets users shut them off. However, it has been chastised for its practices that both include very frequent position checks and data that reaches Google's servers, even if personal data has been stripped out.