Mobile Device Location Data: Additional Federal Actions Could Help Protect Consumer Privacy

 

Mobile Device Location Data: Additional Federal Actions Could Help Protect Consumer Privacy

Using several methods of varying precision, mobile industry companies collect location data and use or share that data to provide users with location-based services, offer improved services, and increase revenue through targeted advertising. Location-based services provide consumers access to applications such as real-time navigation aids, access to free or reduced-cost mobile applications, and faster response from emergency services, among other potential benefits. However, the collection and sharing of location data also pose privacy risks. Recommended practices for protecting consumers’ privacy while using mobile location data include clearly disclosing to consumers that a company is collecting location data and how it will use them, as well as identifying third parties that companies share location data with and the reasons for doing so. Federal agencies have held educational outreach events, developed reports with recommendations aimed at protecting consumer privacy, and developed some guidance on certain aspects of mobile privacy.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

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