Franken renews push to ban 'stalking apps'; ad industry airs concerns

Author:
Updated:
Original:

At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday U.S. Sen. Al Franken revived his push to ban smartphone apps he says many stalkers use to track the movements of their victims.

As the Associated Press reports, a subcommittee Franken chairs heard from a Minnesota sheriff's deputy and advocates for victims of domestic violence who back the Senator's bill.

Once installed on a person's cell phone, the apps relay information about their movements without their knowledge. Some companies market them as a way for parents to track the whereabouts of their children.

But Northland's News Center reports Franken illustrated the need for a ban by relating the story of a Minnesota woman.

“A woman in St. Louis County, who was being abused, went to a county building where there was a domestic violence center, and while she was there, she got a text on her smartphone from her abuser, saying why are you at the county building?” Franken, said.

International Data Group's news service says Franken pointed out the way some of the apps are marketed. One that's promoted as a way to track cheating spouses calls itself a "spy in their pocket." Another says it allows users to "track every text, every call, and every move they make."

Franken calls his bill the Location Privacy Protection Act.

Ad industry concerns

It would also require companies to get permission from an individual before they could collect location data. That provision has raised concerns in the digital advertising industry, which uses location information to customize online ads.

Ad Age notes that at one point in Wednesday's hearing Franken called location-based services terrific for consumers, adding ""I use them all the time when I drive across Minnesota."

Ad Age says some location-tracking straddles a line between offering consumer convenience and infringing on consumers' privacy.

Financial Times says some trade groups worry Franken's bill is so broad it could restrict apps such as those used by Google Maps, Yelp, or the Weather Channel.

Financial Times says Franken indicated he's willing to revise the bill to ensure it does not hinder legitimate business purposes.

The bill would also require any company that collects location data from 1,000 or more devices to detail online what they collect, how it's shared, and how consumers can opt out.

Next Up

Jared Vanderbilt

Shorthanded Timberwolves fall to Atlanta in Monday matinee

D'Angelo Russell scored 31 points, but didn't have much help.

police lights

Man, 72, critical after possible robbery outside Minneapolis business

The 72-year-old sustained gunshot wounds in the incident.

vaccine

It could take months to vaccinate MN teachers, people 65 and older

"This is going to be harder than going to Ticketmaster and trying to get Bruce Springsteen tickets," Walz said.

Herb Brooks statue

Trump's planned statue garden would include 2 Minnesotans, others with MN links

But there were some notable names absent from the wide-ranging and eclectic list.

k9 zeke

Petition seeks to allow retired Corcoran officer to keep K9 partner

Corcoran's public safety director says if K9 Zeke is donated to the officer it will be a loss for the department.

covid

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 18

The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Tom Kelly Jr.

Tom Kelly Jr., son of Twins World Series manager, dies at 42

He was a member of the 2001 UST national championship team.

Hennepin County CSI

Police: Man shot in the head by woman in Richfield

It happened in the early hours of Monday.

University of St. Thomas

St. Thomas students robbed by suspects in ski masks

Nobody was injured in the early Saturday incident.

Related