Technology that determines an individual’s identity or location has been the subject of significant media attention in the first half of 2018: Amazon made news with the sale of its facial recognition technology to law enforcement, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government generally must obtain a warrant to access certain types of geolocation information, California arrested the Golden State Killer using the DNA information of a relative, and Facebook came under fire for the way in which Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of tens of millions of users. Garnering less attention, but of no less importance, are the legislative efforts underway in the federal government and in many states to regulate these emerging technologies and limit the ways in which this information can be collected.
At the federal level, during the past decade, members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle have proposed legislation that would restrict the collection of geolocation information, but have yet to pass anything. The most recent proposal (on the heels of the revelations about Cambridge Analytica) is the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2018, which would prohibit the collection, without disclosures and consent, of a wide variety of personal information including geolocation information.
At the state level, in the absence of federal regulations, a number of states have proposed (and some have passed) laws addressing the collection and use of biometric and/or geolocation information. During the first half of 2018, California and New Hampshire both passed new laws; legislators in Alaska, Delaware, New Jersey and New York proposed new laws; and Illinois proposed sweeping changes to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, one of the few state laws governing the general collection, use, and storage of biometric information.
A more detailed overview of these legislative efforts can be found in my article “Biometrics and Geolocation Legislation: A Midyear Update,” published recently on Law360.
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