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LBS on the Hill

Lawmakers hold hearings on location-based services.

Following the public outcry over Apple iPhones’ storage of geolocational data, a Senate committee in May held hearings on location-based services (LBS), grilling Apple and Google on their privacy practices. In June, lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced three bills that address LBS. The Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act, or GPS Act, was introduced in the House by Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011 in the Senate.

Both bills require user consent before allowing collection, use or disclosure of location data, except in cases of emergencies. The Franken-Blumenthal bill applies only to commercial service providers, while the GPS Act also applies to federal and state government entities.

Broader privacy legislation also has surfaced. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Kerry, D-Mass., introduced a data privacy bill in April, while Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced one in June.

“A lot of what you saw and heard in Senate hearings was really the set-up for a more omnibus privacy bill—a Kerry-McCain-style bill—that would include location-based data,” says Andrew Serwin, founding chair of Foley & Lardner’s Privacy, Security & Information Management practice.

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Melissa Maleske

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