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Mostly Consistent Support for Al Franken's Location Privacy Bill

Last year, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota introduced a location privacy bill to the U.S. Senate that cleared the Senate Judiciary committee but didn’t make it onto the floor. The bill (read the text here) would have stopped the pernicious practice by corporate America of selling information about your location that you generate when you use a smartphone. You did know that information about where you go every day is being bought and sold, didn’t you? What, you mean they didn’t tell you? Exactly. Al Franken’s legislation would have made corporations get your express consent before collecting and sharing your location data, and it would have introduced criminal penalties for violators. The bill was cosponsored in 2012 by 5 Democrats and the Independent Bernie Sanders. Not a single Republican supported your location privacy.

Signs are strong that Senator Franken will reintroduce his bill. A Twitter campaign has recently been unleashed in which people are tweeting out the message I just signed on to support @alfranken’s fight for location privacy. Click here to learn more and join the movement: bit.ly/VV1Mhd.

Guess where that link goes to? Yep, you got it: a web page on which Al Franken is collecting names, e-mail addresses and… zip codes. A little bitty tiny link at the bottom of the page, reading “Privacy Policy,” leads to yet another web page which discloses that:

"When you register or sign-up online, we may share your contact information with successor organizations and other like-minded Democratic candidates and organizations, and they may contact you. When you make a contribution to us, we may also exchange your contributor information with successor organizations and other like-minded Democratic candidates and organizations, and they may solicit you (see below for additional information regarding your contributor information)."

I suppose that Senator Franken is being consistent; at least he’s sort of openly-if-you-look-hard telling you that he’ll be selling your location data too.

And how about those tweeters? Turns out they’re a pretty privacy-conscious bunch. Of the 1,359 people who have tweeted that message so far this year, only 2 have forgotten to turn off the Twitter feature that automatically shares their geographic location every time they Tweet.

2 comments to Mostly Consistent Support for Al Franken's Location Privacy Bill

  • Dave

    I once read a book from the local library called How to be Invisible, and as it was written probably in the late 1980’s or so (a good while before ubiquitous cell phone and smart phone technology) the advice given in the book involved a lot of mail drops, name changes and so on. It was hard work if one wanted to be invisible even then.

  • With Twitter, if one wants not to have one’s geographic position revealed at the time of a tweet, one can also delay the tweet through a service such as Hootsuite. Many tweets are not time sensitive, and those, if you wait a few hours, or a few days, or a few months, before a timed post, will not reveal your geographic info.

    But, does Hootsuite then gather information about you?

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