US Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) took it upon themselves to prevent future Locationgates. Today, Franken and Blumenthal proposed new data privacy laws focused on smartphones and tablets, aiming to prevent Apples and Googles of this world from collecting location data before obtaining explicit consent from users, reports CNN Money.

The bill introduced Wednesday would require device makers and app developers “to receive express consent” from mobile users “before collecting or sharing information about those users’ location with third parties.”

Yup, you read that right. They want new laws in place ensuring we accept privacy statements nobody ever reads anyway. They even coined a splashy name for it: The “Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011”. From where we’re standing, it’s pretty much in line with Verizon’s way of tackling location woes. Senator Franken’s statement right below.


Our laws do too little to protect information on our mobile devices. Geolocation technology gives us incredible benefits, but the same information that allows emergency responders to locate us when we’re in trouble is not necessarily information all of us want to share with the rest of the world. This legislation would give people the right to know what geolocation data is being collected about them and ensure they give their consent before it’s shared with others.

This whole matter escalated, as you know, when British scientists discovered that Apple had been dutifully collecting location data from iOS devices since iOS 4 came out, without users realizing this. Senator Franken first fired up an email to Steve Jobs and then escalated the issue to a full-blown Senate hearing. An international scandal ensued, which forced Apple to release an iOS software update to reduce data retention to just one week, encrypt and make private a location cache file labeled “consolidated.db” and allow folks to disable location tracking system-wide, by turning off Location Services in Settings. Apple’s original stance all along has been that a software bug, as they’ve called it, has been blown out of proportion. The company has been insisting it does not track users and explaining it is only caching anonymized data  about the locations of wireless hotspots and cell towers in order to “allow the device to more quickly and reliably respond to location requests”.

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