San Diego, CA, July 25, 2012 - The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) has asked Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz to address the concerns of the geospatial community in its privacy report.
In March 2012, the FTC released a report,
"Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change" providing
recommended actions for business and policy makers to protect consumers'
In the letter to the FTC, COGO points out that
during the comment period, the FTC had assured the geospatial community that
the intent of the report was not to cover the ordinary activities of the
geospatial community. The FTC had indicated that a definition of the term
"precise geolocation data" or an exception for the legal, legitimate
and ordinary activities in the professional geospatial practice would be
included in the Commission's final report.
"The Coalition has been concerned from
the start that the professional services provided through surveying, mapping
and geospatial data collection would be harmed with the impractical requirement
of a consumer choice mechanism," said Dr. Carolyn Merry, chair of the
Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State
University and COGO Chair.
COGO has expressed its concern that
footnote 187 in the
final report does not adequately address the
activities of the geospatial community. The coalition of 11 geospatial
associations said the wording in the footnote is not as comprehensive as the
FTC had led COGO and the community to believe it would be. In its letter to
Leibowitz, COGO urged the FTC to modify text within the body of the report to
clarify the issue.
COGO has suggested revisions to the report such
that the requirement for individual consumer approval or "affirmative
express consent" prior to the collection, sharing or use of "precise
geolocation data" be further clarified and eliminated.
"The revisions, additions and
clarifications COGO has suggested would provide clarity with respect to parcels
and addresses," said Jeff Lovin (Woolpert, Inc., Dayton, OH), MAPPS
Delegate to COGO, who originated the letter. "One footnote in a 122-page
report does not go far enough to protect areas of professional services that
have not been identified as a problem or pose any privacy concern to
citizens." The letter can be
Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) Appeals FTC Misuse of "Precise Geolocation Data" in Privacy Report
July 25, 2012