US Gov't May Ban Smartphone Tracking Apps

Dennis Faas's picture

A US Senate committee has approved the Location Privacy Protection Act. It's a bill that would ban the smartphone tools which allow people to track others without their knowledge.

The act, introduced by Senator Al Franken, would force companies offering smartphone apps to get a phone user's permission before collecting or passing on data about their location.

The new rules would also explicitly ban any application that tracked locations without the phone user's knowledge. (Source:

According to Franken, such measures are necessary to prevent cases of people secretly installing a tracking app on somebody else's phone. He says such tools could be used by abusers, for example, to help control their victims.

Spying Applications Face Ban

Some of the applications that would be affected by the ban are openly promoted for tracking people. Others are built and billed to let companies secretly collect data about their customers and perhaps sell that information to advertisers.

In a recent statement, Franken said he believes "Americans have the fundamental right to control who can track their location, and whether or not that information can be given to third parties. But right now, companies -- some legitimate, some sleazy -- are collecting your or your child's location and selling it to ad companies or who knows who else." (Source:

Law May Need To Be Reintroduced

The proposed law will now be debated by Congress. However, time is limited: for the bill to become law, it must be passed before the current session of Congress ends.

However, Franken has said he's prepared to start the bill's legislative process over again if necessary.

Congressional logistics aside, the bill faces two other major challenges. First, software industry groups are already arguing that such a law isn't necessary and that a voluntary code of conduct would be better.

Second, such a law must clearly define exactly what apps are covered by the ban. Experts believe that could prove very difficult.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet