Consumer Data Collection

We know the maxim of real estate buyers and sellers; "location, location, location". It's also true for data collection, and with the ubiquity of mobile apps that "geolocate" - that is, identify your physical location some or all of the time - it's information that may be readily available. If app data is paired up with other electronic data such as credit card transactions, library card usage, et al - it's pretty easy to build up a detailed "surveillance" profile of the (often unsuspecting) user.

For Senator Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat, the potential hazard is that by compiling location patterns over time, companies could create an intimate portrait of a person’s familial and professional associations, political and religious beliefs, even health status. To give consumers some say in the surveillance, Mr. Franken has been working on a locational privacy protection bill that would require entities like app developers to obtain explicit one-time consent from users before recording the locations of their mobile devices.


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