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Legislation in Illinois Seeks to Regulate Use of Geo-Location, Search History Data

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The use of marketing information such as location and search history to target audiences and serve up more personalized shopping experiences has helped small businesses market more effectively and efficiently.  However, some are concerned that such use risks privacy rights.

A variety of legislative efforts to curb or regulate the use of marketing information have been introduced recently.  Some require disclosures regarding what data is collected and how it is used while others restrict tracking location of users without their express opt-in consent.  The latest threat is in Illinois.

The Illinois legislature recently passed SB 1833, a data breach bill.  It amends the state’s existing law to include marketing information, such as geo-location and search history, in the definition of personal information, which if breached, triggers a number of notification requirements.

In other words, breach of information such as shopping history for a pair of tennis shoes or trips to a coffee shop would be treated in the same way as breach of social security or credit card numbers.  No other state defines personal information to include this type of marketing information.

Needless to say, this raises business risk and costs for marketers.  There is the increased cost of heightened protections needed for a much larger set of data.  Also, in the event marketing information is inadvertently released or improperly taken, the cost for complying with the data breach law is high.  And the law opens the door for costly private lawsuits or class actions.

If you’re interested in learning more and getting involved in the discussion, contact me at wes@theLSA.org.

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