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Mobile tracking in danger as US Senator to reintroduce location Bill

US: US Senator Al Franken intends to reintroduce his location privacy protection Bill to the full Senate this year, presenting a challenge to developers and applications that leverage wireless network tracking methodologies, which provide information on smartphone users” precise movements.

Franken”s Bill was approved last month by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a spokesman for the senator told the New York Times that Franken expects to bring the Bill before the new Congress.

Part of the impetus for The Location Protection Act of 2012–also known as the Stalking Apps Bill–is the concern that mobile customers may not realise when they download particular apps that their whereabouts are being tracked in order to enable the app to work.

In addition, the senator”s website says his Bill “raises awareness and helps investigations of GPS stalking” and “makes it a crime to intentionally operate a stalking application to facilitate stalking.” The site also states that Franken”s Bill is endorsed by nearly every national domestic violence and consumer group in the country. While the focus of Franken”s Bill is GPS-related tracking, it would likely impact even more precise tracking methodologies, such as WiFi-based tracking, which can be used indoors to track shoppers within a store.

The Bill would almost certainly have a chilling effect on mobile advertising efforts, which aim to deliver digital promotions to the smartphones of people nearing or entering a given store. Senator Charles Grassley has argued that Franken”s Bill would render many apps useless and could drive free ad-supported apps to become fee-based.

Franken proposes to require app developers to obtain explicit one-time consent from users before recording the locations of their mobile devices rather than allowing apps to automatically begin tracking users” movements. His Bill also requires disclosure of the advertising networks or other third parties with which apps share consumers” locations.

Source: Fierce Broadband