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Senate panel approves Franken's location privacy bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Gillibrand: 'I definitely want to run for president again' Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' 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 LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (Utah), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos Garland strikes down Trump-era asylum decisions MORE (Ala.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnNSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office Wasteful 'Endless Frontiers Act' won't counter China's rising influence MORE (Okla.) did not attend the markup, but registered dissenting votes. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden's program for migrant children doesn't go far enough The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll 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 SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Murkowski to vote 'no' on voting rights bill Harris to preside over Senate for voting rights debate MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseProgressive groups ramp up pressure on Feinstein Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks 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.