Franken takes aim at ‘stalker apps’

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wants to keep mobile apps from secretly tracking users.

“Right now, companies — some legitimate, some not — are collecting your location and giving it to whomever they want,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

{mosads}Franken, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, introduced an updated version of his Location Privacy Protection Act, which would require companies to get users’ permission before collecting or sharing location information from their smartphones, tablets and in-car navigation systems. In 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Franken’s original bill.

The new bill, which is backed by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), would require companies collecting location information from more than 1,000 devices to disclose their data collection and sharing practices.

It would also ban “stalker apps,” which are designed to collect and share a user’s location information without that user knowing. If enacted, the bill would allow law enforcement officials to seize proceeds from the creation and sale of such apps and redirect the proceeds to anti-stalking organizations.

“My bill would finally put an end to GPS stalking apps that allow abusers to secretly track their victims,” he said, pointing to “victims of domestic violence and stalking victims” who are unknowingly tracked through these “stalker apps.”

Franken said his bill “would also give consumers more control over their very sensitive location data.”

“Tens of millions of Americans have smartphones now. And the companies that make the software on your phone, including apps, can track your location at any time,” he said. 

Tags Al Franken Smartphones

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