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Privacy Update and Request for Information

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, July 10, 2014

MAPPS has for some time been working on the issue of individual citizen privacy as it applies to geospatial data.

Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission, and legislation in Congress and some state legislatures, seek to regulate the collection, use, storage, and dissemination of "precise geolocation data", and in most instances, fails to define that term.

MAPPS has held sessions at its conferences, "lobbied' the issue before Congress, presented testimony before Congress, and educated the community through blogs and trade magazine articles.  

Recently, Senator John Thune (R-SD) questioned the FTC Chair on this issue.  Attached are his questions and FTC's responses.  This is significant because the extent of the government's regulatory interest is narrowed by a doctrine of  “context of the interaction” that had not previously been shared with MAPPS or others in the geospatial community (e.g. COGO or the FGDC)  exempts a large percentage (but not all) of what our members do.

The FTC challenged associations to develop a "best practices" guide for its members in its report, "Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change".
MAPPS, under the leadership of Susann Marlow (Smart Data Strategies, Franklin, TN), our Cadastre Task Force Chair and MAPPS President-Elect, we are attempting to draft such a "best practices" guide.

If your firm has a guide, policy or any other document regarding privacy and the data you collect, store, apply, or disseminate, I would be grateful if you would share it so we might consider it in the development of a MAPPS document for the good of the profession and the public we serve in the marketplace.

Please send your policy, guidance, standard, etc. to me and to Susan.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to your profession.

Tags:  Congress  Data  Federal Trade Commission  FGDC  FTC  Geospatial  John Thune  Privacy  Technology 

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Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) Appeals FTC Misuse of "Precise Geolocation Data" in Privacy Report

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, July 30, 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' private information.

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, which 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 viewed here


About COGO

 

Formed in 2008, the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) (www.cogo.pro) is a coalition of 11 voting member and four advisory member national professional societies, trade associations, and membership organizations in the geospatial field, representing more than 30,000 individual producers and users of geospatial data and technology. The coalition's Member Organizations are:

 

American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM)

American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS)

Geographic Information Systems Certification Institute (GISCI)

Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS)

United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF)

University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)

Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS)

International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO)

National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)

Urban Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)

 

Associate Members:

 

National Association of Counties (NACo)
National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
Western Governors Association (WGA)
American Planning Association (APA)

 

 

To view the COGO letter, go to:
http://cogo.pro/uploads/COGO-FTCletter-PrivacyReport_Chairman_Leibowitz_July52012.pdf
  

Tags:  COGO  FTC  Privacy 

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Update on the FTC Privacy Rule and it’s Impact on “Precise Geolocation Data”

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, May 2, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011
The staff of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) facilitated a meeting on Wednesday, April 27 to engage geospatial interests in federal, state and local government agencies, and the private sector in a dialogue with the staff of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the FTC staff report, "Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change" and its proposal that firms engaged in collection, sharing or use of "precise geolocation data" about a citizen be required to obtain "affirmative express consent”  or advance approval of each such citizen.

MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello was invited to the meeting representing the private sector firms in the MAPPS membership.
The meeting resulted in a number of revelations.  But first, a little background.

In February 2009, the FTC issued a report "Behavioral Advertising Tracking, Targeting, & Technology” wherein it defined behavioral advertising as "the practice of tracking an individual’s online activities in order to deliver advertising tailored to the individual’s interests.”  While the report used the term "precise geographic location”, it was limited to internet activities, such as the use of "cookies" (FTC defined a cookie as a small text file that a website’s server places on a computer’s web browser. The cookie transmits information back to the website’s server about the browsing activities of the computer user on the site.) As a result of this relatively narrow scope of the report, it did not garner the attention of the geospatial community.

Legislation billed as protecting consumer privacy was drafted and introduced in Congress in 2010.  The Privacy report, a follow-up to the Behavior Advertising study, was much broader in its scope, application and reach, as well as its discussion of geolocation and its proposal for regulation of such activities, thus attracting the concern and attention of geospatial professionals.  MAPPS submitted comments to the FTC, issued a call for members' action, made a presentation to the National Geospatial Advisory, and secured letters of opposition to the FTC proposal from FGDC,vthe Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO), numerous MAPPS members and other stakeholders in the geospatial community.    

The MAPPS comment to FTC came on the heels of letters to the FCC, the Commerce Department, and Congress.

The community’s comments to FTC caused the April 27 FGDC-facilitated meeting, held at the U.S. Department of the Interior headquarters building in Washington, DC.

At the April 27 meeting, Palatiello pointed out that since the FTC only has jurisdiction over private, for profit companies (and not nonprofits organizations or universities, or government agencies), the FTC proposal would result in an unlevel playing field and unfair government competition with private firms.  The FTC staff confirmed its existing statutory authority is limited to commercial companies.  The discrimination against these companies was called unfair by a Federal agency official in the meeting.  Palatiello noted that while government agencies are not covered by FTC’s enforcement powers, the FTC privacy proposal did not exempt private firms working as contractors to government agencies.

The FTC staff, led by Christopher Olsen, Bureau of Consumer Protection, as well as attorneys Peder Magee and Katie Ratte of FTC's Division of Privacy & Identity Protection, complimented MAPPS for mobilizing comments from its members and the broader geospatial community.  Olsen called the comments "helpful” to calling attention to the expansive and undefined use of the term "precise geolocation data”.  He said "what you people (geospatial professionals) do is beyond what we intended” and admitted FTC needs to "put meat on the bones” of a definition of precise geolocation data in its final report.

Olson said the FTC staff’s intent is to control "pinpoint unique individuals in a precise location” and the collection of information on the "location of an individual, computer or device”.

Palatiello called such a narrowing "helpful” and "reassuring”.  He noted that MAPPS attempted, but was unable to define "precise geolocation data” for the purpose of FTC or Congressional intentions on privacy, but did recommend an exemption from such term.  That exemption included:

1. Any information about the location and shape of, and the relationships among, geographic features, including remotely sensed and map data;

2. Any graphical or digital data depicting natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth and any information related thereto, including surveys, maps, charts, remote sensing data, and images;

3. Collection, storage, retrieval, or dissemination of graphical or digital data to depict natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth and any information related to such data, including any such data that comprises a survey, map, chart, geographic information system, remotely sensed image or data, or an aerial photograph by surveyors, photogrammetrists, hydrographers, geodesists, cartographers, or other such mapping and geospatial professionals; and data originating from commercial satellite systems licensed to operate by the U.S. government, global positioning systems, geographic information systems, and airborne or terrestrial mapping equipment.

Palatiello also echoed comments by MAPPS member Kevin Pomfret, Esq (LeClairRyan, Richmond, VA) that any such definition or exemption must not preclude the development of new technologies, activities or applications or thwart the innovation that is driving the market.

Tags:  Congress  FCC  FTC  Geolocation Data  Privacy 

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Update on the FTC Privacy Rule and it’s Impact on “Precise Geolocation Data”

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, May 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
 
The staff of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) facilitated a meeting on Wednesday, April 27 to engage geospatial interests in federal, state and local government agencies, and the private sector in a dialogue with the staff of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the FTC staff report, "Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change" and its proposal that firms engaged in collection, sharing or use of "precise geolocation data" about a citizen be required to obtain "affirmative express consent” or advance approval of each such citizen.

MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello was invited to the meeting representing the private sector firms in the MAPPS membership.
The meeting resulted in a number of revelations. But first, a little background.
In February 2009, the FTC issued a report "Behavioral Advertising Tracking, Targeting, & Technology” wherein it defined behavioral advertising as "the practice of tracking an individual’s online activities in order to deliver advertising tailored to the individual’s interests.” While the report used the term "precise geographic location”, it was limited to internet activities, such as the use of "cookies" (FTC defined a cookie as a small text file that a website’s server places on a computer’s web browser. The cookie transmits information back to the website’s server about the browsing activities of the computer user on the site.) As a result of this relatively narrow scope of the report, it did not garner the attention of the geospatial community.

Legislation billed as protecting consumer privacy was drafted and introduced in Congress in 2010. The Privacy report, a follow-up to the Behavior Advertising study, was much broader in its scope, application and reach, as well as its discussion of geolocation and its proposal for regulation of such activities, thus attracting the concern and attention of geospatial professionals. MAPPS submitted comments to the FTC, issued a call for members' action, made a presentation to the National Geospatial Advisory, and secured letters of opposition to the FTC proposal from FGDC, the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO), numerous MAPPS members and other stakeholders in the geospatial community.
 
The MAPPS comment to FTC came on the heels of letters to the FCC, the Commerce Department, and Congress.

 
The community’s comments to FTC caused the April 27 FGDC-facilitated meeting, held at the U.S. Department of the Interior headquarters building in Washington, DC.
 
 
At the April 27 meeting, Palatiello pointed out that since the FTC only has jurisdiction over private, for profit companies (and not nonprofits organizations or universities, or government agencies), the FTC proposal would result in an unlevel playing field and unfair government competition with private firms. The FTC staff confirmed its existing statutory authority is limited to commercial companies. The discrimination against these companies was called unfair by a Federal agency official in the meeting. Palatiello noted that while government agencies are not covered by FTC’s enforcement powers, the FTC privacy proposal did not exempt private firms working as contractors to government agencies.

 
The FTC staff, led by Christopher Olsen, Bureau of Consumer Protection, as well as attorneys Peder Magee and Katie Ratte of FTC's Division of Privacy & Identity Protection, complimented MAPPS for mobilizing comments from its members and the broader geospatial community. Olsen called the comments "helpful” to calling attention to the expansive and undefined use of the term "precise geolocation data”. He said "what you people (geospatial professionals) do is beyond what we intended” and admitted FTC needs to "put meat on the bones” of a definition of precise geolocation data in its final report.

 
Olson said the FTC staff’s intent is to control "pinpoint unique individuals in a precise location” and the collection of information on the "location of an individual, computer or device”.


Palatiello called such a narrowing "helpful” and "reassuring”. He noted that MAPPS attempted, but was unable to define "precise geolocation data” for the purpose of FTC or Congressional intentions on privacy, but did recommend an exemption from such term. That exemption included:
  
 
1. Any information about the location and shape of, and the relationships among, geographic features, including remotely sensed and map data;

 
2. Any graphical or digital data depicting natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth and any information related thereto, including surveys, maps, charts, remote sensing data, and images;

 
3. Collection, storage, retrieval, or dissemination of graphical or digital data to depict natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth and any information related to such data, including any such data that comprises a survey, map, chart, geographic information system, remotely sensed image or data, or an aerial photograph by surveyors, photogrammetrists, hydrographers, geodesists, cartographers, or other such mapping and geospatial professionals; and Data originating from commercial satellite systems licensed to operate by the U.S. government, global positioning systems, geographic information systems, and airborne or terrestrial mapping equipment.


 
 
Palatiello also echoed comments by MAPPS member Kevin Pomfret, Esq (LeClairRyan, Richmond, VA) that any such definition or exemption must not preclude the development of new technologies, activities or applications or thwart the innovation that is driving the market.

 
 

Tags:  Commerce  FTC  Geolocation Data  Privacy 

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