Browse all articles

Illinois Legislature Sends Geolocation Privacy Bill to Governor

Illinois has the opportunity to become the leading state in the country when it comes to protecting your geolocation data. But will Gov. Rauner sign the bill?

We encourage Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign HB 3449, the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act, into law. If signed, this bill will safeguard the privacy of children in the state by protecting the geolocation data collected by smartphones and tablets.

These days, it's crucial for mobile app users to be aware and in control of how their personal information is collected and used, especially when it comes to geolocation data from the devices that kids and teens carry with them everywhere they go. The smartphones and tablets kids use to text their parents, do schoolwork, or post on their social media accounts are often tracking their locations without them even knowing it's happening. Tech companies take the information they've collected over time and sell it to advertisers, analytics companies, and other third parties that profit from the information.

Geolocation data is highly personal, and when it comes to kids, that means revealing data on where a child lives, attends school, and gets medical treatment. In many instances, this information is collected without the child's -- or her parent's -- knowledge or consent.

A recent study from Carnegie Mellon shows that a dozen popular Android apps collect location data roughly every three minutes. Over the two-week study period, these apps collected GPS coordinates accurate to within 50 meters an average of 6,200 times per participant.

We strongly support HB 3449 because it protects mobile device users' sensitive location information. The bill prohibits online companies and apps from disclosing geolocation data without express consent in the form of a separate terms of service and privacy policy. This would mean that apps must display a separate pop-up that explains the purpose of collecting the user data and how the data collected will be used.

We urge Gov. Rauner to sign HB 3449 to help create a trusted mobile environment that respects the privacy and sensitivity of mobile users' location data.

If you support putting commonsense limits on the data collected on consumers by app developers and tech companies, sign up to be a Kids Action Advocate today.

JR Starrett
JR oversees Let's Invest Large in Youth (LILY), a multi state program for Common Sense Kids Action. In this capacity JR works with a team of internal and external stakeholders to identify and introduce state based legislation that will positively impact kids. Prior to joining Common Sense, JR served as a seasoned political operative managing campaign efforts for some of the nation’s most competitive races. JR was recognized as a Rising Star by Campaigns and Elections magazine in 2014. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife Morgan. JR is a frequent contributor to Campaigns and Elections Magazine, contributing to the Campaign Insider column.