Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Pamela Lampitt and Raj Mukherji to protect consumers from having their GPS tracking locations disclosed to third parties by their mobile service providers cleared the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Thursday.
Although personally identifiable information is often stripped from the data prior to sale along with other data such as geo-tracking, a purchaser could determine personal information including names, home addresses, work addresses, and daily routines by examining this information.
“I find it particularly nefarious that mobile service providers can take your location data and sell it to third party companies who then sell it to whoever wants to buy it,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “This is private information about your whereabouts, your habits, where you live and when your home.”
The bill (A-5259) would prohibit phone companies from disclosing an individual’s personal global position system and location data to a third party without the customers consent. The provisions of the bill do not apply to a commercial mobile service provider required to disclose a customer’s GPS data to comply with applicable federal or State law, regulation, law enforcement investigation, legal process, or court order.
“Many services ask a question before transmitting your location to an app. This may not happen every time,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “A consumer should have a choice about whether they want their information shared with any other party such as a marketer.”
“For most of us, our entire lives are online, from handling our finances to using navigation apps that get us where we need to go,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “An arrangement with a mobile service provider should not mean a consumer’s private information about their whereabouts and habits is free to be shared with or sold to third parties, who can then resell it without the consumer’s knowledge or consent. This bill will help protect consumers and their privacy.”
The bill would provide that a violation of the bill’s requirements is a violation of the State’s consumer fraud act, which may result in a penalty of not more than $10,000 for the first offense and not more than $20,000 for the second and each subsequent offense.
The legislation will now go to the Speaker for further consideration.