May 17, 2012
The tech industry is welcoming legislation Congress is proposing to update our outdated electronic privacy laws – written before almost anyone carried cell phones. Today Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black told the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee during its hearing that failure to address the geolocation privacy loophole is a problem for both civil liberties – and the growth of this industry.
Mobile technologies have proven to be one of the most transformative of the information age over the past decade. Their effects have been felt in everything from emergency response to the fall of dictatorships. The economic benefits of mobile access are hard to argue with. The mobile industry accounted for $195.5 billion in contribution to GDP and 3.8 million jobs in 2011 alone.
But what supports the adoption of mobile technology is trust — particularly where data is concerned. So the Computer & Communications Industry Association appreciates that Congressmen Goodlatte and Chaffetz have introduced the GPS Act.
The following comments can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“Congress should close the loophole in ECPA that was inadvertently created by new geolocation technology. Otherwise the intent of the original law as well as the reasonable expectation of privacy in one’s whereabouts will be undermined.
“There are many things that companies can do to maintain users’ trust – being transparent about the information they gather and how it will be used. They can also give users more control over whether and when information is collected, and how it is protected. However, companies can only control their own data practices – not when the government demands user information. This is why it is so important to this nascent marketplace that Congress pass a law requiring a warrant before law enforcement may demand location information about a person.
“While the Supreme Court unanimously expressed its discomfort with warrantless geolocation tracking in a January decision, the narrow written ruling left too much uncertainty for Internet users and companies because it dealt with older methods of tracking. The written decision said attaching a tracking device to a car was trespassing and illegal without a warrant, but the court was silent on where technology is now going – largely tracking via cell phone. The Goodlatte Chaffetz GPS bill would make sure that the government shows a judge probable cause before demanding current or past location of a suspect. Having this standard would give businesses certainty that is important in answering questions on privacy policies that are critical to stakeholders from investors to customers.”
“We believe that the changes made by the GPS Act are vital both for the privacy and civil liberties of Americans and for the positive effects it would have on an exciting and booming sector of our economy.“