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Received this e-mail from Senator Al Franken (D. MN) today:
If you’re reading this email on a smartphone, GPS technology can pinpoint your current location within 10 meters.

Someone with that kind of location information doesn’t just know where you live. They know where you go to church and where you drop your kids off at school, the roads you take to work and the doctors you visit.

So, this is pretty sensitive information. But the companies that collect it don’t protect it the way they should. Many applications that collect location information give that information to third parties without users’ knowledge.

That’s dangerous -- and I’m trying to stop it. Will you help? Click here to sign my petition and help me protect location privacy:

I want to make sure that, if a company is going to collect information about your location -- and especially if they’re going to share it with a third party -- it gets your permission first.

And I definitely want to stop companies from developing applications that are specifically designed to help abusers stalk their victims. Yes. Those exist.

I’m proud to be working with groups that protect victims of domestic abuse -- as well as people on both sides of the aisle -- on this important effort.

Now I need your help.

If we’re going to get this done, Washington needs to hear from you. Will you join my fight to protect location privacy by clicking here?

Don’t get me wrong -- many of the companies collecting and sharing information are providing a valuable service, and many have honorable intentions.

Still: If you own a smartphone, you should be concerned about the way your sensitive information is being collected and shared. And we should all be pretty upset that some companies are making money helping abusers stalk their victims.

It’s time for action. Specifically, the action of clicking here to help me build a movement behind these important reforms:


P.S.: I really need your help on this one -- and if you use a smartphone, there’s a lot at stake for you. So click here to sign on:

Consumer privacy protection from GPS Smartphone tracking systems has long been a major concern for Senator Franken:

Senator Al Franken (D-MN), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, plans to debate legislation that would require companies to obtain express consent from users before collecting, obtaining, or sharing the location data from mobile phones. The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2012 would require location data handlers to disclose what information is collected and inform users about how to "revoke consent" for data collection and sharing. In a statement provided by his office, Senator Franken warned of ubiquitous "personal tracking devices" and said that "the law allows companies to collect and disclose our location information without our knowledge and consent." In the senator's fact sheet about the bill, privacy issues with the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7 are all specifically named. - The Verge, 12/5/12
Franken has been able to use the subcommittee to investigate privacy issues in the technology world.  The main focus has been on location tracking like the Carrier IQ phone tracking case and use of facial recognition technology.  You can read about these issues here:

Carrier IQ phone tracking:

Location tracking:

Facial recognition technology:

Here's the link to Franken's petition again:

And show Al some gratitude for looking out for consumers' privacy by donating to his re-election campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:56 PM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Signed! (5+ / 0-)

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 08:58:57 PM PST

  •  Sen. Franken is one of the best things to happen (9+ / 0-)

    to the US Senate in a long time. Not to mention that he is also one of the most talented snarkmeisters since Mark Twain.

    Thanks for the news.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 09:00:52 PM PST

  •  This is an important issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obama proposed a "privacy bill of rights", but since his biggest contributors were technology companies, I'm not sure how hard he'll push for it.

    That's why we need momentum in Congress as well for action to be taken. Although Franken's record in this area is imperfect (he was a cosponsor of PIPA), it's great that he is pushing for this.

    Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

    by MrAnon on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 09:47:35 PM PST

    •  The Bill of Rights, like the rest of the (0+ / 0-)

      Constitution, addresses the behavior of agents of government. It says nothing about the behavior of natural persons and private artificial bodies (corporations). Civil rights are addressed, but that involves citizens behaving as governors--i.e. in our public role.

      The prohibitions in the mis-named Bill of Rights imply that there are rights (individual and institutional) which ought to be respected by the agents of government. But note, for example, that the penalty for violating the prohibition against searches and seizures is that the fruits of that violation can't be used to prove an individual guilty of a crime.
      The only way to get respectful agents of government is to hire them for that purpose and fire them when they don't perform. Organisms can be restrained, but they can't be made to do right without a bribe.
      You want somebody to do what you want? Pay them. Authoritarians don't see it that way. Authoritarians believe that their word is enough to get compliance and, if it isn't, the non-compliant can simply be dispensed with. This is not, btw, the law of the jungle. In the jungle, predators kill to eat. (It has recently been discovered that some chimps kill their own kind. While those who study their behavior have suggested that's evidence that humans killing their own kind is a natural inheritance. I'd argue that organisms killing their own kind is evidence of stupidity cropping up everywhere from time to time).

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 02:23:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This an outstanding and quite timely post! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, leema

    Per my comment in another post, very early Friday morning.

    And, as far as the FTC is concerned, I'll make one statement: They "were" the entity responsible for policing the Fair Credit Reporting Act and FACTA (the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act) least until the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) came along...then again, according to a recent (over the past week) appeals court decision in DC, the CFPB may never have "come along" at all, at least until now.

    Summing it al up in the Cliff Notes: The FTC sucks at enforcing regulations. (So, if they're the chumps supposedly overseeing the sanctity of so-called privacy for the general public, then this whole matter is nothing short of a farce! And, yes, I work in the Personal-Private info tech sector; so, this is based upon my firsthand knowledge of these matters, which blatantly tell anyone that cares to do a deeper dive on these issues, they'll quickly learn that personal privacy is a thing of the past. Period!)

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:26:23 PM PST

  •  Permission? Hell! Pay a fee for the privilege. (0+ / 0-)

    And then 50% of what they charge when they turn it over to someone else. With that 50% charge sticking through every subsequent transaction.

    Markos! Not only are the Gates Not Crashed, they've fallen on us. Actual Representatives are what we urgently need, because we have almost none.

    by Jim P on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 10:59:02 PM PST

  •  Biometrics. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    All of this technology, if it is made available and unregulated, has the potential to do great harm.  It disturbs me on a visceral level.

    Recced +

  •  When he shows any interest in restraining (0+ / 0-)

    Government use of the same technologies again, I'll start respecting him and taking him seriously again.

    "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

    by JesseCW on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:22:13 PM PST

    •  It's worth noting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That he was one of the 23 Senators who voted against the FISA Amendments Act reauthorization last month.

      Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

      by MrAnon on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:19:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  One solution is to simply (0+ / 0-)

    Turn of all location services your smartphone.

    I also only give limited apps location services (mainly google maps which I only turn on for driving/walking directions and then turn it back off once I have my directions.

    While I totally applaud the proposed regulation in regards to the monetization of your data to 3rd parties, there is a lot you can do as a user of this technology to protect your privacy.

    Not every story has a happy ending but Im doing my best to make mine so. Come and take a look at my discussion forum: TheNewCurevents We are looking for new active members!

    by ProgressiveTokyo on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 11:33:14 PM PST

  •  Privacy, like all out other attributes, depends (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    on being respected by our environment to be honored. Some elements in the natural environmen--e.g. the mosquito--are not capable of respecting the bodily integrity of a warm-blooded organism with which it can connect. Humans are presumably capable of respecting their own kind, but, in practice, many don't. Indeed, some humans seem convinced that other creatures, including humans, exist for them to use and abuse. When such people get into the communications business, they are going to employ the tools at hand to use and abuse. Can we prevent that behavior with laws? Doubtful. Especially now that the principle of implied consent has spread from the matrimonial to the commercial realm.

    How can one protect oneself from being tracked by a global positioning system device? Don't use one. Why will many people not do that? Because they have a poor sense of direction, place and distance and never know where they are. Being told is a comfort to them. Being electronically connected lets them feel less isolated. It may even be that this connectivity accounts, in part, for the reduction of isolates, people who identify themselves as Cons. People who already feel connected don't have a need to be connected.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 02:03:36 AM PST

  •  Send your money to, Me, Al Franken... (0+ / 0-)

    ... Al is such a stealth Senator, it's surprising to see him stick his neck out on something.

  •  Why would anyone mind (0+ / 0-)

    ..if a faceless corporate or governmental entity was tracking and recording your every movement and trying to profit from that information?

    It's gay sex and abortions that are the real problem in America.

    Silly liberals.

    Why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn't want to #&@$ in the first place? - George Carlin

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:30:46 AM PST

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