Sensible Regulations Versus No Regulations
I remember back in the early 2000s, the direct marketing industry and the tech sector worked with Congress to craft sensible regulations for email marketing. The result was called CAN-SPAM and it was passed into law in 2003. The law has been modified to clarify certain terms and rules. While it certainly was not perfect (what is perfect?), it paved the way for a lot of progress in making email a workable medium for consumers and businesses.
There are no such rules in the location data business. Any mobile app can collect data on where you are and do what they want with it. That is not good for anyone, including the companies who are collecting that data.
Today, the CEO of our portfolio company Foursquare, which is in the location data business, wrote an op-ed asking Congress to regulate the location data industry.
In the op-ed, Jeff (Foursquare’s CEO) outlines what he thinks would be reasonable regulation. Here are the highlights:
- apps should not collect location data unless they are using it to provide value to the user
- there should be transparency to the user around what they are signing up for and how the data will be used
- there should be a “do no harm” requirement
- location data should be protected with the appropriate security
The entire op-ed is a good read and Jeff goes into a lot more detail than I did on each of these points.
I hope this leads to action in Congress and we get the right legislation as a result.