Senate panel approves Franken's location privacy bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenOvernight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC agrees to production cuts Senate gears up for fight on Trump's 0B Saudi Arabia arms sale Senators air grievances on Trump energy budget, delays MORE's (D-Minn.) Location Privacy Protection Act on Thursday. 

The bill would require companies to get a customer's consent before collecting or sharing mobile location data. It would also ban mobile applications that secretly monitor the user's location — a feature that Franken said allows for stalking and enables domestic violence.

Franken noted that many apps already ask for users' permission before tracking them, but he said his bill is necessary to ensure that the practice is mandatory.

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"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," Franken said. "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." 

GOP Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeSenate gears up for fight on Trump's 0B Saudi Arabia arms sale Senate feels pressure for summer healthcare vote Overnight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens MORE (Utah), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsJustice Dept. to seek Supreme Court review in Trump travel ban case Sessions vows to stop leaks about Manchester attack Appeals court upholds injunction blocking Trump's travel ban MORE (Ala.) and Tom CoburnTom Coburn'Path of least resistance' problematic for Congress Freedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC MORE (Okla.) did not attend the markup, but registered dissenting votes. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' MORE (Iowa), the panel's ranking Republican, said he still has concerns with the bill, but he agreed to move it forward.

Grassley said he supports the provisions that would ban so-called stalking apps, but he has concerns that other provisions could limit commercial innovation.

Democrats defeated an amendment from Grassley that would have imposed transparency requirements on state attorneys general who hire outside counsels. Democrats expressed concern that the amendment would hamper state investigations and violate the principle of federalism.

Sens. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill Top House, Senate Dems ask Interior not to eliminate national monuments GOP senators distance themselves from House ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDOJ pitches agreements to solve international data warrant woes Senators push for enhanced powers to battle botnets GOP rejects Dem effort to demand Trump’s tax returns MORE (D-R.I.) also said they have some concerns with the language of the bill, but they said they would work with Franken to improve the legislation.

Franken said he already worked on his bill for a year and a half, and added that he held extensive conversations with industry groups. But he said he would work with the other senators to address their concerns.

With Congress focused on the “fiscal cliff” of automatic spending cuts and tax increases in the final weeks of the year, the bill’s chances for passage this Congress look slim. Franken is expected to push the measure again next Congress.