GAO Recommends Consideration of New Privacy Rules for Mobile Technologies

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On November 15, 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report it had previously delivered to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (“Committee”) that focuses on identifying gaps in U.S. privacy laws and approaches for improving information privacy, particularly related to the use of mobile applications. The GAO report responds to a request by the Committee to examine privacy issues that are emerging with the wave of new technologies. The GAO report follows recent Congressional efforts to enact new privacy laws, such as the Do-Not-Track Online Act introduced by Committee Chairman Rockefeller and the Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act introduced by Senator Wyden, signaling concern among legislators about the growth in the collection and reselling of consumer information.

The report examines privacy issues related to consumer information “used for marketing and for individual reference services,” and explicitly excludes information used for other purposes, such as fraud prevention or underwriting credit. Emphasizing the need to regulate the use of consumer information by information aggregators and resellers using new technologies, such as social media platforms and mobile phone applications, the GAO recommends that Congress consider strengthening "the consumer privacy framework to reflect the effects of changes in technology and the increased market for consumer information.”

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