GAO-12-93, September 11, 2012
What GAO Found
Using several methods of varying precision, mobile industry companies collect location data and use or share that data to provide users with location-based services, offer improved services, and increase revenue through targeted advertising. Location-based services provide consumers access to applications such as real-time navigation aids, access to free or reduced-cost mobile applications, and faster response from emergency services, among other potential benefits. However, the collection and sharing of location data also pose privacy risks. Specifically, privacy advocates said that consumers: (1) are generally unaware of how their location data are shared with and used by third parties; (2) could be subject to increased surveillance when location data are shared with law enforcement; and (3) could be at higher risk of identity theft or threats to personal safety when companies retain location data for long periods or share data with third parties that do not adequately protect them.
Posted by Bret Cohen, Hogan Lovells Chronicle of Data Protection, July 5, 2011
Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Geolocation Privacy CaseThe Supreme Court on June 27 granted certiorari in a geolocation tracking case that could have implications for companies that incorporate location-tracking features into their products or that monitor the locations of their employees or assets. Specifically, the Court asked the parties to brief whether the government violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by installing a Global Positioning System GPS tracking device on his vehicle without his warrant and without his consent. …
For full analysis, visit Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Geolocation Privacy Case : HL Chronicle of Data Protection.
- Wyden, Chaffetz Introduce the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Supreme Court To Decide Major GPS Tracking Case (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Executive Counsel ” Lawmakers Eye Geolocation Apps (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Lawmakers Propose Warrant Requirement for GPS Data (wired.com)
- Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Key Warrantless GPS Tracking Case (eff.org)
- Bill Would Keep Big Brother’s Mitts Off Your GPS Data (wired.com)
by Dan Rowinski, ReadWriteWeb, April 18, 2011 8:15 AM
Senators John Kerry, and John McCain introduced a bill to the Senate floor last week entitled “The Commercial Privacy Bill Of Rights” that would reform and codify how Internet user data could be used online.On the surface, this seems like the type of altruistic bill that falls in to the no-brainer area of Congressional legislation. Privacy, protection, trust, accountability. All the good political buzzwords apply. Yet, it is not that simple. Data is the lifeblood of the Web and the use of consumer data and the bill would allow the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce to have a significant hand in regulation of how data is collected and used by companies. Advertisers, innovators and consumer groups are concerned with the bill, not so much because of the wording of the legislation, but rather the amount of control it places in the hands of the FTC and whether or not that is necessary.
- Sens. Kerry, John McCain introduce ‘privacy bill of rights’ to protect web users from data-collection abuse – wsj (online.wsj.com)
- Kerry and McCain introduce online privacy bill in U.S. Senate (news.consumerreports.org)
We would like to invite you to read Geodata Policy’s first guest blog posting by Robert Gellman. This article is timely given the update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and the recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change, which highlights the sensitivety of “precise geolocation data” (p. 61). Robert Gellman is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, DC: http://www.bobgellman.com/.
Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?
Robert Gellman, Privacy and Information Policy Consultant
February 21, 2011
Is there such a thing as privacy in a public space? When you walk down the street, anyone can observe you, make notes about your location, appearance, and companions, and even take your picture. If so, then it would seem that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
However, most people would be unhappy if they found themselves followed all day. For most of human existence, this type of surveillance was impractical because of the great expense of following someone around.
This is a good place to pause and say that this is a short essay and not a law journal article. The law of surveillance is complex, and the answers can be different if the person doing the surveillance is a government agent, an employer, or an average person, or if you’re taking pictures or recording conversations.
Is privacy in public a case of the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object? Should your location privacy deserve some protection even when you are in public?
These questions are much harder to answer today because of technology. It’s cheap to track people in public today. There’s no need to pay a private detective. Technology does it. First on the list are cell phones. Your cell phone broadcasts your location constantly to a cell phone tower, and your provider knows where you are. Cameras are everywhere, taking pictures in malls, parking lots, building corridors, on the street, at red lights, and on the highway. Facial recognition software is getting better all the time. Photos placed on the Internet can be scanned to identify individuals as well as the date and GPS coordinates where the photos were taken. Digital signage in stores and elsewhere can record behavior, approximate age, gender, and ethnicity, and can sometimes identify individuals using a variety of devices. I recommend a pioneering report on digital signage by my colleague Pam Dixon. It’s at the World Privacy Forum website.
Even though not all the technological and organizational links are yet in place, it’s not hard to envision the possibility that, in the near future, every action you take outside your home may be observed and recorded by someone. This is more or less what happens today online, where there is a good chance that some website or advertiser (and probably many more than one) records every site you visit, every page and ad you see, and every click you make.
The Kojo Nnamdi Show, January 18, 2011
Online advertisers and marketers are using increasingly sophisticated tools to track us, especially on our cell phones. But most consumers are unaware of the many ways Internet traffic is being analyzed and interpreted. We examine new debates about privacy on the Web, and learn about data collection over smart phone apps.
A Wall Street Journal investigation finds that iPhone and Android apps are breaching the privacy of smartphone users: “What They Know” Series, WSJ.com
- Time to double team on Net privacy (politico.com)
- Hear Marc Rotenberg at The Digital Privacy Forum, January 20 in New York (socialtimes.com)
- Online consumers need to take more precautions (msnbc.msn.com)
- Microsoft unveils new privacy feature for IE (usatoday.com)
- FTC: Privacy Self-Regulation Not Enough, “Do Not Track” Needed (gigaom.com)
- Hiding Online Footprints (online.wsj.com)
- FTC Readies National Privacy Framework (pcworld.com)
- White House Calls for Online ‘Privacy Bill of Rights’ (dailyfinance.com)