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American Dream Betrayed

Rauner Vetoes Your Online Privacy

The private online information of Illinoisans took a major hit after Gov. Bruce Rauner rejected House Bill 3449, the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act. Had it been signed into law, this historic piece of legislation would have provided transparency by requiring corporations that collect, use or sell Illinoisans' geolocation information from their mobile devices to obtain their consent before tracking them.

Instead, Rauner's veto is a betrayal of consumer trust and total failure to people who value their personal privacy. Rauner's action is a clear message that he values his Silicon Valley friends more than the people and small businesses in Illinois.

"You can throw all the money in the world at a problem, but we can't actually protect ourselves if we aren't aware that our geolocation information is being collected, used and sold to begin with," said Digital Privacy Alliance board member Peter Hanna. "By vetoing this legislation, Governor Rauner signals to all Illinoisans that their privacy rights aren't as important as big business profits."

House Bill 3449 is a common sense consumer protection measure that simply requires a person or corporation to get consent before tracking someone through his or her mobile device. Current law does not require a corporation to be transparent about when and why they are tracking you and your personal data, which has led to the erosion of consumer trust in technology.

Such corporate disregard for consumers' privacy was recently highlighted by a report exposing the mobile app AccuWeather for continuing to collect and share location information even though a user previously denied the app's request for access to that information.

The industry's lack of transparency also threatens our physical safety. Just this past July, the FBI warned parents that the collection of personal information from connected devices posed privacy and physical safety threats to children.

A national study conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that 72 percent of victim services programs across the country had seen victims who were tracked through a stalking app installed on a mobile phone or a stand-alone GPS device, and the Washington Post revealed that half of the 2,500 children's apps it tested failed to protect their data.

The dozens of tech start-ups, enterprise software companies, and web development shops around the state that have stepped up in support of the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act believe it is necessary for the protection of citizens' privacy rights and critical for ensuring consumer trust in their industry.

"Trust is a completely undervalued commodity in today's digitally dominated world and trust is eroding every day," said Derek Eder, partner at DataMade, co-founder of Open City, and leader of Chi Hack Night. "If we, as an industry, don't start regaining the trust of our consumers, we won't have a strong base to work with. Illinois could be at the forefront of this movement and this act is a good move to start regaining that trust."

The diverse advocacy groups that have rallied behind the bill include the Digital Privacy Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Center for Democracy & Technology, Illinois PIRG, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Cook County Sheriff's Office, Social Change and Illinois Attorney General's office.

"Signing this bill into law would have been a clear demonstration that Illinois is a progressive leader in the technology industry and is forward thinking," said director of Illinois PIRG Abe Scarr. "Unfortunately, the Governor chose big business over the protection of Illinois citizens."

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See also:

* Tribune: Rauner Vetoes Geolocation Privacy Bill Aimed At Protecting Smartphone Users.

* Sun-Times: Rauner Vetoes Smartphone Location Tracking Privacy Bill.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on September 25, 2017


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