Senate panel to examine ‘stalking apps’

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) will hold a hearing next week on “stalking apps,” which can secretly track people through their smartphones.

“I believe that Americans have the right to control who can collect that information, and whether or not it can be given to third parties,” Franken, chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, said in a statement.

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“But right now, companies — some legitimate, some not — are collecting your location and giving it to whomever they want.”

Earlier this year, Franken reintroduced his Location Privacy Protection Act, which would require companies to get users’ permission before collecting and sharing their location information.

In his statement, Franken pointed to the pervasive use of smartphones with geolocation features.

“The companies that make the software on your phone, including apps, can access extremely sensitive location data that reveals where you live, where you work, where you drop your kids off at school, the church you attend and the doctors you visit,” he said,

The bill also has a provision to end specific “stalking” apps that can be used by one person to secretly track another person.

“My commonsense bill helps a whole range of people, and would finally put an end to GPS stalking apps that allow abusers to secretly track their victims,” Franken said.

That bill will be the subject of the subcommittee’s June 4 hearing, which will include testimony from representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the Government Accountability Office and local law enforcement, as well as the National Consumers League and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.