MAPPS, the national association of private sector geospatial firms, has sent a letter opposing proposed legislative language that would limit the use of "precise geolocation information". The association said that a draft bill, proposed to be introduced by Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, threatens data collection, applications, and growth in the private geospatial profession.
The draft bill is intended to protect consumers' privacy by requiring "notice to and consent of an individual prior to the collection and disclosure of certain personal information relating to that individual." However, according to MAPPS, language included in the bill is a concern to the collection of geospatial data and geospatial lines of business through its provision limiting the collection of "precise geolocation information".
MAPPS believes the current bill language threatens information that is collected by private and government entities to perform E-911 and emergency response management, environmental protection, home security,mortgage foreclosure monitoring/early warning system, and many other tasks that are conducted by geospatial professionals.
"The intent of the bill drafted by Rep. Boucher — to protect personal privacy — is laudable, but in its current form, the provisions would result in a number of unintended consequences by severely limiting information collected by the geospatial community for government agencies, to support government programs, and to provide for commercial applications that consumers are demanding in the marketplace," said Jeff Lovin, MAPPS President.
The current draft exempts government agencies from its limitations. MAPPS urged Rep. Boucher to more clearly define the term "precise geolocation information", exempt data collected by private sector firms under contract to government or for sale to government agencies, and exempt private individuals who are already regulated and licensed to practice by state licensing boards, as well as exempt commercial satellite remote sensing firms that are licensed to operate by the federal government. .