Should the Geospatial Community be Worried About the Federal Agency Reports on Privacy? YES, AND HERE IS WHY!

By MAPPS

Editor's Note: In response to our podcast on Tuesday, January 4, The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors, MAPPS, issued a response via their blog on Thursday, January 6. The following is reprinted with permission from the organization and we appreciate their assistance in both clarifiying the issues we discussed as well as helping to educate the broader geospatial community on this very important issue.
 
In response to a recent podcast by Directions Magazine in which MAPPS was not contacted for comment or clarification there was speculation by the hosts. MAPPS would like to clarify the issues and answer the questions raised in the podcast.
 
The current proposals from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Commerce are both regulations, whichreferrers to a specific requirement that can take on various forms, such as industry specific regulationor regulations that are much broader in scope” and not legislation going through Congress. It is because of this “broad scope” that MAPPS has mobilized the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC), Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) and law experts in the geospatial profession urge the geospatial community and those affected by the term “precise geolocation data” to take action and comment on the proposals.
 
Throughout the podcast the words ‘regulation’ and ‘legislation’ were interchangeably misused. As noted in the discussion, MAPPS commented on two separate pieces of legislation one draft and one formally introduced in Congress (HR 5777 ) that ultimately did not move in the House of Representatives or Senate. Regulations, such as those proposed  by the FTC and Commerce are not the same as legislation.
 
It is because of its experience and expert knowledge of the legislative and regulatory system that MAPPS has urged a response from the entire geospatial community.
 
 
Is this a web-based or browser based regulation targeting the Internet?
 
No, though this is drafted as a ‘consumer protection’ regulation, the fact that the term “precise geolocation data” is included in the regulation without any parameters indicates that no one industry or profession is defined and can affect with any industry/profession that falls within the definition.
 
Does the draft regulation include satellite, aerial photography and location based services (LBS)?
 
Yes, due to the broad use of the term precise geolocation data/information through the draft all would be regulated. It is because of this broad definition and the timeframe in which to comment that MAPPS is mobilizing the geospatial community – both producers and users.
 
Potential for competition with private firms.
 
The commentators allude to “potentially put US firms in competition with foreign firms who may or may not be under this same rubric and basically have a considerable impact on the business of members of MAPPS”.  This is a real threat.
 
To understand the extent of the FTC and Commerce proposals, take for example a town such as Reston, Virginia. They hire a geospatial firm to do a master plan, which requires address and parcel data. With the current language, a mapping, planning or A/E firm would have to get ‘prior consent’ from every landowner whose property would be included in the planning. That is impractical to the point of being impossible to comply with.
 
 
Comment to the FTC and Commerce.
 
MAPPS is alerting the greater geospatial community, including data producers and users, and location based service firms, of the immediate threat this has on their businesses and organizations. Social media companies such as Foursquare and MAPPS member firms such as CompassData, Inc., i-cubed and NAVTEQ that utilize and develop location based services (LBS) would be affected by this regulation.
 
It is because of the MAPPS is not made up of just aerial or collection firms, but firms in the broad spectrum of geospatial activities, including LBS, applications, and value-added services that MAPPS strongly urges for all firms to individually comment to the FTC and Commerce Department.
 
Again, MAPPS is working with the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) and the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) to each send comments on these regulations.

Published Friday, January 7th, 2011

Written by MAPPS



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