June 4, 2014
Washington, DC—Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League, will on testify on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law chaired by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in support of privacy protections for mobile device users.
“Privacy is the cornerstone of consumer protection and a fundamental human right,” Greenberg will testify. “Mobile devices and apps are ubiquitous today, and they provide many consumer benefits, but with those benefits come extremely personal information about consumer location. These data can reveal where consumers shop, what doctors they visit, or when they attend a political meeting. Consumers must have the right to consent – or not - to have this information collected and to know with whom it is being shared and for what purpose. This bill provides consumers with those very protections.”
Location data is particularly sensitive and of increasing value. By 2017, the market for “geo-targeted” mobile advertising tailored to a user’s precise location is likely to grow to $9.1 billion according to consulting firm BIA/Kelsey. However, there are significant consumer concerns about how the collection and use of the location data that is powering this growth. According to a 2012 poll by Consumer Reports, 65 percent of smartphone owners were “very concerned” that apps can access their contact lists, photos, and location data without their permission.
The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014, which NCL supports, would require businesses to obtain consumers’ permission before collecting and sharing location information with a third party. The bill would also require companies to improve disclosure about the kinds of data they are collecting, how they share and use it and how consumers can stop the collection and sharing. Finally, the law would prohibit so-called “stalking” apps, which allows someone to track the location of another person’s whereabouts without their knowledge or permission.
“Individuals must be able to control how their location information is collected and used. Unfortunately, in case after case, we have found that voluntary best practices and outdated law have failed to adequately protect consumers’ sensitive location data,” said John Breyault, NCL’s Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud.
In addition to the National Consumers League, representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the Government Accountability Office, local law enforcement, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Digital Advertising Association, and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation will testify during today’s hearing.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.