There’s so much controversy over Facebook and Google, it’s hard to believe that privacy laws in regards to geolocation tracking have surfaced from underneath. It wasn’t that long ago that people started to question their privacy when using apps that were tracked by Apple and Google.
Although the general public becomes outraged for a few moments at the realization that yes, they are indeed being tracked, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it’s the very art of tracking that enables these apps to work. After all, how else would your app know where you are and where you’re going without being able to track your whereabouts?
And so, not that much after these facts came to light, are advocacy groups getting together to offer some sort of privacy for geolocation tracking tools. On October 18, 2011, Sen. Ron Wyden pushed for a bill in both the House and Senate that would make the government have to request permission from the court that they could track someone’s geographical location from their smartphone.
This bill, also known as the “GPS” Act, would also prevent companies from sharing geographical locations with third parties. Wyden knows that his bill faces controversy, as law enforcement may have to wait longer and go through more hoops to get the information they need.
However, Wyden is more interested in how geographical location information can be used against people, particularly in missing children’s cases. While law enforcement feels that being able to track children by their geographical location can help in missing children’s cases, Wyden feels differently. He believes that it’s predators that can easily get their hands on children when they know how to locate them using geolocation tracking tools.
This bill is just one of many that assesses data privacy and tracking issues. Although the bill faces many amendments, Wyden presents areas of concern and suggests the importance of preventing third parties from using geolocation information, as well as properly securing the tracking data. Since geolocation apps are still fairly new, only time will tell as to how this data will be controlled, stored and shared to the safety of the user.