United States: On The Third Day Of Privacy, My Smartphone Followed Me…

In 2013 geolocation and biometrics were hot topics.  Apple included a fingerprint reader on the new iPhone which was either really cool or an epic fail depending on your viewpoint, and Google and the NSA are tracking our every move.

While Edward Snowden's revelations may have been eye opening (and headline-grabbing), the government has long been first in line to develop and use technology like geolocation and biometrics.  Homeland Security insists that biometrics are essential in national defense – identify and stop the bad guys.  The feds have also pushed biometrics in immigration reform bills for over a decade and continue to push that legislation forward.  And your location?  Well, law enforcement has been conducting warrantless geolocation tracking for years!

States have also been active in this area – passing legislation to allow the storage of the high resolution photos they take of you at the DMV in a searchable data base.  Many states allow federal and state law enforcement officials to search those databases.  Most legislation is aimed at limiting government use of this information, but the winds may be turning...

Biometrics

Currently, no federal law limits a private entity's ability to collect, use or disclose biometric information.  Cybersecurity has been a hot button issue over the last few years and legislation has been introduced, but no legislation regarding private use of biometric data has been passed.  The Cyber Privacy Fortification Act has been introduced a few times and was reintroduced in March.  This legislation could be passed in 2014; it would require covered entities to provide notice to the FBI or the United States Secret Service of "major" security breaches of "sensitive personally identifiable information," which by definition in the legislation includes unique biometric data.

Despite the current lack of proposed legislation, legislators are definitely paying attention to this area.  Senator Franken has repeatedly taken aim at the use of biometrics and recently questioned Apple about their use of fingerprint readers on the iPhone and urged the Department of Commerce to develop best practices for facial recognition technology.  The National Telecommunications and Information Administration responded to Franken's request by announcing the kick-off of a privacy multistakeholder process to implement the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights in the field of facial recognition.

With Senator Franken pushing and the multistakeholder process moving forward, there's a good chance we will see new legislation aimed at regulating biometric information in 2014.

As this technology has flowed into our everyday lives we've seen some states take action by regulating the collection and use of biometric information.  Both Illinois and Texas have laws restricting a private entities use and disclosure of biometric information and several other states have laws governing the disposal of biometric information.  A few states also include biometric data in their definition of "personal information" and require notice to data owners in the event of a data breach involving that information.

In 2014 Alaska may pass its proposed House Bill No. 144, which is similar to the laws in Illinois and Texas.  The law requires covered entities to provide notice and obtain written consent from individuals prior to the collection of their biometric information and provides for an individual cause of action.    It would not be a surprise to see other states move forward in the biometric regulation area in 2014.

Geolocation

With the advent of smartphones came the love-hate relationship with geolocation.  We love when Siri gives us the name of a great restaurant that is up the street, but we are creeped out when we discover she's been tracking our every move, even when we aren't trying to locate that hip hangout.

Like with biometrics, the government has been all over geolocation technology for some time now and courts are playing catch up.  The big question today is whether police need warrants to obtain the location information of suspects.  Decisions around the country have been all over the map.  In July the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned an appellate decision and ruled that the use of cell phone information obtained by police without a warrant from a wireless provider violates the suspect's constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment of the New Jersey Constitution.  It's possible that in 2014 the US Supreme Court will take this matter up for review.

Most legislation in this area has focused on limiting the government's ability to collect and use geolocation information.  The Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act was reintroduced in 2013, and the bill requires government agencies to obtain a warrant to obtain geolocation information in the same way they currently get warrants for wiretaps.

On the state level, both Maine and Montana have laws requiring law enforcement agencies to get a warrant before they can obtain location information of an electronic device.  Texas, Maryland Ohio, Colorado, California, and Illinois introduced similar bills this year, and we expect to see more state legislative activity in this area in 2014.

In the private sector, geolocation is an exploding industry.  In an attempt to compete with online competitors (who can easily track your every move) brick and mortar retailers use geolocation tracking via your mobile device to gather specific information on your shopping habits – like how long you stayed in the store, whether you went to the register, how long you waited in line and where the store hotspots are located.  In 2013 we saw this type of tracking blow up in Nordstrom's face, but  that did not stop Apple from rolling out its iBeacon in its own company stores in the U.S., or Macy's from piloting the iBeacon technology in a few of its stores this holiday season.  We expect that 2014 will bring more new and creative technology to retailers who will use that to find new ways to find us — and monetize mobile location information.

Mobile app providers are also trying to get your geolocation information to improve their bottom line.  The New Year rings in with Twitter tapping into its location data.   Twitter just entered into an agreement with a provider for location intelligence technology which Twitter will use to support location sharing in tweets.  A news source reports, "Twitter will have an option to combine that location data for tweets with buying patterns, behaviors, preferences and influencers, and cross-reference it with nearby stores or other mobile users within an individual's social network. It uses a smartphone's GPS signal to pinpoint a location."

Although we have not seen laws regulating the private sector's collection of geolocation information, we blogged recently about the release of the Mobile Location Analytics Code of Conduct.  The Code is a self-regulatory framework of seven principles for services provided to retailers by mobile location analytic companies.

If a voluntary framework doesn't ease your worried mind, maybe an app to block location tracking will?   Android users can now download an app  to do just that!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

    Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of www.mondaq.com

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

    Disclaimer

    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

    Registration

    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

    Cookies

    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

    Links

    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

    Mail-A-Friend

    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

    Emails

    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .

    Security

    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions