Thanks to Kade Crockford, Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Program, for providing an overview of H.357/S.148, which bans the sale and trade of personal device location information. The ACLU’s “Your Location: It’s None of Their Business” initiative, which is supported by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts and Reproductive Equity Now, pertains to unregulated data brokers who buy and sell personal location data from apps on our cellphones, revealing where we live, work, play, and more.
Kade pointed out that cell phone data is a multi-billion-dollar industry and elaborated on various possible harms done by the sale of cell phone location date:
- Harms to domestic violence victims, gay people, people seeking substance use treatment, people with medical conditions they want to keep private, and everyone else is at risk
- Harms to people seeking abortion or gender affirming care in MA are at risk from the widespread availability of this information. Bounty hunters and prosecutors can simply buy it.
- The right-wing Heritage Foundation used cell phone location data to track migrants throughout the US and produce an anti-immigrant propaganda report.
- The government can also buy cell phone location data, skirting Fourth Amendment requirements that they get a warrant.
Kade emphasized that individuals cannot meaningfully control who can access their location information. The only thing we can do is pass a law preventing companies from selling it.
The Ward 4 Dems will consider endorsement of the Location Shield Act at an upcoming meeting.