Monday, March 29, 2010

Location Privacy - Will Congress Decide?

Cnet is reporting that a number of major technology companies have joined with liberal and conservative advocacy groups to convince Congress to update federal privacy laws. According to the report, Google, Microsoft, AT&T and others hope that Congress will revise the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) so as to provide further protection for spatial data as well as data stored and used in cloud computing. Such protection would include, in many instances, requiring the government to obtain a warrant in order to access a company's location information of its customers and to limit requests only for information related to a specific account or individual. (As has been previously discussed here, judges have reached different conclusions on whether a warrant is required for law enforcement to collect location data from wireless carriers).

It is important to note that the purported revisions would not apply to the private sector. However, if these changes were to become law, it will surely raise the expectation of privacy a citizen/consumer may expect in their location data in both the public and private sector.

Moreover, in light of the recent Congressional hearing on consumer privacy with respect to location-based services, it appears that Capitol Hill will be a focal point in the U.S. on this topic for the next year.

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