Senate panel approves Franken's location privacy bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenWinners and losers of the Dem convention Party unity overcomes chaos...and the Bernie-or-Bust crowd The Hill's 12:30 Report 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 LeeObama signs opioid bill Thiel said to explain support for Trump in convention speech Convention erupts at Cruz snub MORE (Utah), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsOur children, our future – bridging the partisan divide Trump starts considering Cabinet Trump tweets: 'Such a great honor' to be GOP nominee MORE (Ala.) and Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (Okla.) did not attend the markup, but registered dissenting votes. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyDems urge Obama to release info on Russian links to DNC hack Top senators want details on probe of DNC breach Top Dem Senate hopefuls to skip convention 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 SchumerConvention shows Democrats support fracking, activists on the fringe Dem ad blasts Indiana senate candidate on Social Security The Trail 2016: Unity at last MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's 12:30 Report Why Kaine is the right choice for Clinton Report: More, stronger cyber attacks to flood networks 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.