MAPPS Urges Federal Trade Commission to Revise Draft Regulation Limiting Use of "Geolocation Information"

Reston, Virginia, January 11, 2011 – MAPPS (, the national association of private sector geospatial firms, has submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission opposing regulatory language that would limit the collection, sharing or use of "precise geolocation data".

The association said a draft regulation, proposed in a Federal Trade Commission staff report, threatens data collection, applications and growth in the private geospatial profession.

The draft regulation, "Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change," is intended to protect consumers’ privacy by requiring that "companies must provide prominent disclosures and obtain affirmative express consent before using consumer data in a materially different manner than claimed when the data was collected…" MAPPS called compliance with requirement "impractical to the point of impossible" for geospatial firms.

MAPPS believes the current regulatory language threatens information that is collected by private and government entities to perform E-911 and emergency response management, environmental protection, homeland security, mortgage foreclosure monitoring/early warning systems, master planning, and many other tasks that are conducted by geospatial professionals.

"The intent of the regulation drafted by the FTC staff – to protect personal privacy – is laudable, but in its current form, would result in a number of unintended consequences by severely limiting information collected by the geospatial community. This information is collected 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 (Woolpert, Inc., Dayton, OH).

MAPPS urged the FTC staff to more clearly define the term "precise geolocation data", or exempt such information.

"These proposals are poorly written, do not define precise geolocation data, and have serious unintended consequences for industries and professions beyond those these federal authorities are attempting to regulate," Palatiello said. "This is a significant issue and one that we need to address with a unified voice. It is why MAPPS is urging all geospatial professionals to submit comments to the FCC."

The MAPPS letter comes on the heels of letters to the FCC and Congress.

MAPPS has created a blog to update the geospatial community on the threat. The FTC is accepting public comments through January 31.
Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. The MAPPS membership spans the entire spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the United States and other firms from around the world. Independent Consultant Members are sole proprietors engaged in consulting in or to the geospatial profession, or provides a consulting service of interest to the geospatial profession. MAPPS provides its 180+ member firms opportunities for networking and developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education, public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image enhancement. For more information on MAPPS, please visit