Right To No

Senator Al Franken (yea, that guy – it still sounds funny to call him “senator”) has introduced the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011. If passed, the bill would require providers of smart phones and other devices to obtain the express consent of users before the devices could collect data on users’ location and share it with third parties. While some folks would prefer to let companies like Google and Apple sort this out without help from Uncle Sam, privacy advocates are wondering why the bill addresses only non-government entities, and has no impact on the ability of law enforcement to gather location data. Apparently, Franken was motivated by information he received from anti-domestic violence advocates, which detailed how abusers could use the information for no good. The bill is consistent with where I think most people wind up on the privacy question. The bill doesn’t prohibit the collection or even the use of the data. It just makes sure the consumer knows about it. That seems reasonable.