Groupon updates mobile location sharing guidelines
"If you use a Groupon mobile app and you allow sharing through your device, Groupon may collect geo-location information from the device and use it for marketing deals to you (and for other purposes listed in the ‘How Groupon Uses Personal Information' section of the Updated Privacy Statement)," the email states. Groupon adds that the changes also address some new types of business relationships the company is forging and new technologies it is implementing or may use.
Each day, Groupon presents bargains from retailers or restaurants spanning across hundreds of international markets. According to the Groupon website, the service has saved shoppers more than $2 billion since launching in late 2008. Groupon introduced an application optimized for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and iPod touch in March 2010, enabling consumers to purchase, redeem and organize deals on-the-go; in addition, users can log in via Facebook Connect and map local Groupons in real time via their smartphone's GPS feature. Last month, Groupon filed for an initial public offering expected to raise roughly $750 million.
Mobile location tracking has emerged as a hot-button subject in recent months, with two bills introduced in mid-June proposing new restrictions on how both government agencies and private firms can collect and implement user location data. The Location Privacy Protection Act, spearheaded by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), vows to close loopholes in federal law to guarantee that consumers know what location data is collected and give them the option to decide whether they wish to share it.
The Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R.-Utah), would require law enforcement agencies to get a warrant to track a citizen's location via mobile phone or special tracking device. The bill proposes the creation of a legal framework designed to give government agencies, commercial entities and private citizens clear guidelines for when and how location-specific data can be accessed and used.
The furor over location tracking exploded earlier this year after British researchers reported that Apple's iPhone and iPod devices had recorded location and time-stamp data since the mid-2010 release of the iOS 4 software update, effectively creating a comprehensive log of all user movement and activities during that time. Apple later explained that iOS devices are gathering location information to maintain a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers in the user's vicinity, enabling an iPhone to more rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested. Apple added that calculating a phone's whereabouts via only GPS satellite data can take up to several minutes, while its approach can slash the process to a few seconds.
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