Senate panel approves Franken's location privacy bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenGOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges Chelsea Handler recalls run-in with Ivanka: 'I can’t even with you' Senators introduce lifetime lobbying ban for lawmakers 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 LeeDivisions emerge in the Senate on pre-existing conditions Abortion poses hurdle for Senate healthcare bill GOP senators to Turkey: Apologize for DC brawl MORE (Utah), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsDOJ asks judge to reassess after sanctuary city update: report Sessions postpones Senate testimony on DOJ funding Voting advocates notch win at Supreme Court 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 GrassleyIt’s time to rethink prisoner re-entry GOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges Grassley: Don't expect anti-Trump leaks to stop after special counsel appointed 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 SchumerCongress urges Trump administration to release public transit funding Overnight Tech: FCC begins rolling back net neutrality | Sinclair deal puts heat on regulators | China blames US for 'Wanna Cry' attack Sasse dominates Twitter with Schumer photo, 'reefer' caption MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseIt’s time to rethink prisoner re-entry Lawmakers vow to move ahead with Russia probes Senate panel advances Trump's appeals court nominee 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.