Senate panel approves Franken's location privacy bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenDems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule GOP wants to move fast on Sessions Overnight Cybersecurity: Lawmakers pushing for vote to delay warrant rule changes 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 LeeWill Trump back women’s museum? Overnight Cybersecurity: Lawmakers pushing for vote to delay warrant rule changes Coons to call for voice vote to halt changes to hacking rule MORE (Utah), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump’s White House is a step backward in racial progress The people have spoken: Legalizing cannabis is good Republican policy GOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency MORE (Ala.) and Tom CoburnTom CoburnWill Trump back women’s museum? Don't roll back ban on earmarks Ryan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight MORE (Okla.) did not attend the markup, but registered dissenting votes. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyDrug pricing debate going into hibernation GOP leaders host Trump's top deputies Key Republican wants details on Ohio State attacker 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 SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape Anti-Defamation League: Ellison's past remarks about Israel 'disqualifying' Dems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseGOP wants to move fast on Sessions Dem senator backing Sessions for attorney general Dems pledge to fight Sessions nomination 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.