Beth Fulkerson: Geofencing Users Must Respect Privacy Rights

Our Chicago-based partner, Beth Fulkerson, was recently interviewed about the legal issues surrounding consumer privacy rights when advertisers employ geofencing and GPS tracking technology.

The focus of the article published by Business News Daily is on the growing trend of geofencing, which allows businesses to set up specific zones to gather data on users based on their smartphone’s location beacon. When a user, whether that be a customer, truck driver or drone, enters that area, a business receives information on that user; even if it’s only that they’ve arrived into the designated geofencing zone.

The idea of businesses, or employers, tracking the geographic location of relevant users may sound like a violation of privacy, but this emerging technology generally operates within the confines of modern privacy laws. Geofencing and location-based data gathering is a tremendously powerful technology that can be leveraged by businesses of all sizes and it’s important to understand the legal restrictions for its use.

Here is an excerpt from the article about the consumer privacy aspects of using geofencing technology –

Beth Fulkerson, a partner at Culhane Meadows PLLC who specializes in internet advertising, copyright, and trademark law, said it’s important for businesses to respect consumers’ privacy when using this technology. She said businesses should always obtain user permission before collecting data and should only collect data that’s needed

“The basic rule is that companies should be very careful to always consider privacy when they design any kind of product or service – the FTC now requires that,” she said. “The two concepts now are consent plus transparency … You need to get affirmative express consent before you take somebody’s location information.”

This comes in the form of a user opting in to GPS services on your app, or opting in to location-based services in their smartphone’s settings. Users can limit location-based advertising data, which is an option that can also be toggled in the settings panel.

To view the complete article click HERE.

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