Al Franken Introduces First Location Privacy Bill In Senate

Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) is one of a group of politicians that have been making a lot of noise about digital privacy in the past several months. He’s the one who called Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to testify about the issue of location privacy last month. Now, Franken and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced the first locational privacy bill, which would require smartphone companies like Apple and Google to tell consumers more about the kinds of information sharing they do.

The proposal, a summary [PDF] of which is available on Franken’s website, would require companies to notify consumers when they collect location information and when they share it with third parties, like advertising networks.

It isn’t yet clear how specific the disclosures would have to be; and there’s a big difference between asking smartphone users if they don’t mind information sharing in a general sense, and asking something like: “May we share your location data with advertising network X?”

In addition, the bill would impose data security requirements for companies that have location information for more than 5,000 devices. They’d have to take “reasonable steps” to protect the data, and most interesting, would have to delete the information of individual consumers who requested their data be removed.

There have been several bills proposed in Washington over online privacy this year, and one failed proposal in California, but this is the first one to focus specifically on location.