US: Geolocation technology raises concerns in part because significant benefits of the technology often are overshadowed by sensationalised media accounts of real or perceived privacy breeches, according to LeClairRyan attorney Kevin D. Pomfret – a leading advisor of spatial law and technology.
According to Kevin, some of the key benefits are advances in map making, emergency response and “smart grid” energy distribution. He acknowledged there are legitimate privacy concerns but sees a danger that regulators will overreact, and he encourages businesses with an interest in this technology to weigh in.
Issues that will need clarification include: Who should have access to one’s geolocation data? Should someone’s location on a public street be protected in the same way as medical or bank account information? Which public and private entities should have access to location-based data, and under what circumstances? Meanwhile, companies can take steps to protect themselves from liability by, for example, identifying and protecting geolocation data that can be associated with an individual.
Some liability issues, like damages alleged to be the result of faulty GPS navigational information, are unrelated to privacy.
Geolocation regulation is a world-wide issue, Kevin said, and different national jurisdictions will inevitably resolve it in view of their own privacy notions, which vary widely across cultural and national boundaries.