U.S. Senate Democrat Franken to hold mobile privacy hearing; Apple, Google summoned

“As the controversy over persistent location tracking in the iPhone and Google Android devices continues to surge, representatives from Apple and Google have been summoned to a Senate judiciary hearing on mobile technology privacy in May,” Josh Ong reports for AppleInsider.

“Democratic Senator Al Franken, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, will hold the hearing, titled ‘Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy,’ on May 10,” Ong reports. “In addition to representatives from Apple and Google, confirmed witnesses at the hearing include officials from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission; Ashkan Soltani, independent privacy researcher and consultant; and Justin Brookman, Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Project on Consumer Privacy.”

Ong reports, “After security researchers revealed last week that Apple’s iOS 4 operating system stores a detailed log of user’s locations, Franken and other government officials sent concerned letters to Apple.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Illinois Attorney General Madigan requests meeting with Apple, Google – April 25, 2011
Apple sued for privacy invasion, computer fraud over iOS location data collection, storage – April 25, 2011
Steve Jobs on iOS location tracking: We don’t track anyone, but Droid does – April 25, 2011
Apple iPhone collects location info even when location services are turned off by user – April 25, 2011
Android phones regularly transmit location data to Google ‘at least several times an hour’ – April 22, 2011
House Democrat questions legality of Apple’s iPhone, iPad location tracking – April 21, 2011
Apple’s iOS location tracking file caused by a bit of unfinished code? – April 21, 2011
U.S. Senator Al Franken demands answers from Apple’s Steve Jobs over iPhone tracking – April 21, 2011
Expert: iPhone tracking story is nothing new and Apple is not collecting the data – April 21, 2011
‘untrackerd’ jailbreak utility blocks iOS from storing recorded iPhone location data – April 21, 2011
Apple’s iPhone tracks everywhere you go; stores the info in secret file on the device – April 20, 2011

72 Comments

        1. Even more importantly when will you partisan trolls wake up and admit that you have both been played and sold to the highest bidding corporation? R & D alike are killing our country with your “politics”, how about we stop posturing, pontificating and get down to the real job of governance? The two party system is clearly broken.

          1. Thanks for proving my point Breeze, your vitriol contributed nothing, it’s continuation is leading to the demise of the USA.

            Name calling, no compromise, spoon fed talking points, illogical hatred of diverse opinions, in short: sheep, lemmings, pawns. Do yourself and the world a favor.

            WAKE UP

      1. We can be sure the NSA is already recording all phone calls, emails, texts, etc. We don’t know when this began, but it surely was going on during Shrub’s reign after Congress passed the “Patriot” Act.

      2. … all bent out of shape when the tracking was revealed … “say it ain’t so, Steve”.
        Then got all over Franken when he asked the SAME questions … “you dumbDem”.
        Then got bent and defensive when it was reported that the info WAS being sent to Apple – AND stored … “PLEASE say it ain’t so, Steve”.
        Then made a huge fuss when Madigan asked the same questions … “go powder your nose, this is too important for a mere woman to be involved”.
        Now, it’s a mere “distraction”, and the it’s guys who want to investigate who are trying to “take more of our liberty”? You seem to have your own personal Reality Distortion Field, dude. What was IN that Tea you drank?

  1. This is how I see it (and i’m not an American):

    In a “greatest democracy in the world”, media whips up a frenzy of reports regarding severe breach of privacy on mobile phones that track and store location info. Among all the noise on the subject, nobody is capable deciphering the actual truth.

    Within the democratic system, a publicly elected official, whose duty, as a chairman of a Subcommittee on Privacy, is to look into the privacy issues, decides to hold a hearing and finally get to the truth by inviting key players in the industry.

    I can’t see what could possibly be the more appropriate way to sort this all out; media will continue to spin this the worst possible way (to make the story more dramatic and scary); industry players will either ignore it (Apple), or spin it their own way, and ordinary people will have absolutely NO CLUE what is the actual truth.

    There is a strong possibility that a senate subcommittee hearing can actually properly reveal how little there is to the whole scandal.

    1. I agree. There *are* privacy laws, and there *is* a congressional subcommittee for the review and creation of these laws. Frankin happens to be the chair of this committee. A hearing in this is not out of line, and It is appropriate that Frankin be the one to call for it.

    2. So, the people who do know what’s what, the players, tell a public servant who is clueless, who then will tell the media and the public? Why would that convince me anymore than a direct statement from “the players”, which I already have.

      There’s an even better possibility that they will end up adding this file to the list of things TSA will access during airport security checks?

      Al needs to know who knows, and how much, about his own locations during the election recount.

      Al will be

    3. Except, that in American politics, every issue is a potential vehicle to further party agenda. For example, if you don’t like Obama, then he is the one who “forced” Apple to track your every move so he could give that information to his secret Muslim army. If you’re a Democrat, then Apple is another corporation that seeks to use tracking data to target you with a flood of ads to increase profits.

    4. You may not be an American, but you have a pretty good idea how things are supposed to work in a democracy. More than I can say for half the people posting comments on this board.

      The bottom line is, the backwater media, who isn’t beholding to journalistic ethos plants a story designed to excite (hits) a very narrow segment of society. Without the benefit of first-handknowledge, or any desire to read up on the topic, many “zombies” just go ballistic to the point where the zombie festival draws the attention of the MSM.

      It’s only then, that leaders are forced to deal with the information. It’s too bad, there are so few voices in this vertical news market to quell the BS, before it hits the mainstream press.

      You mentioned earlier about the inane forces at play compelling people to act whether they’re prepared to do so, or not.

      This, like your shareholder/CEO scenario is also one of those occasions. Our congresspeople are being forced to deal with a subject that is, and will be in a state of flux for years to come. But rather than let the market deal with these issues in their own methodical way, government will be forced to intervene and once the Feds get their oafish hands on it, it never turns out good for consumers.

      The corporate lobbyists will usurp our power and demand satisfaction. We make it easy for them, because ignorance usually prevails among sheep.

      In the end, we seem to lose a bit more freedom in the marketplace. Corporate swine use the occasion to undermine consumer satisfaction, which usually equates to a cost-savings, while keeping congress’ indebted feet to the fire, and once again the ignorant and sheepish consumers let something else get taken away.

    5. Ah, as usual Predrag injects a thoughtful, rational viewpoint into the usual mire of anything-political-USA … Which will predictably be ignored by the usual fringe elements who post regularly on this site. Predrag: It is too bad there are not more Americans with your “non-American” clarity and reasonableness of thought.

  2. I would love to see a true debate on a wide array of issues between Al Franken and Mark Steyn.

    These Franken-Steyn forums would be witty, enlightening, challenging, and thought provoking….(plus whatever Al had to say…)

  3. Isn’t it amazing? All the so-called conservatives infesting this forum appear to be in favor of government and industry having unfettered access to personal data. It takes a ‘damned librul’ to stand up for individual rights.

        1. While I can appreciate your dilemma you could start by turning off your Location Services and don’t allow third-party software makers to access your location under the guise of sending you alerts and notices and freebies!

          You should probably confine all voice calls to only those in your address book. And it’s probably not best to pull out your iPhone in public. It will only draw unwanted attention to yourself.

          As a last ditch effort, sell it. Use the money to get out of your contract. But, don’t consider buying another cell phone, because ALL cell phones can be used to place you within a 1-mile radius of the nearest cell tower.

  4. It is with amusement, and quite a bit of bewilderment, that us, non-Americans watch the American political landscape. It all started when an actor (??) was elected the president of the country, and continued until this day. The way it looks right now, there is a very high probability that the next American president will be Donald Trump (of all people). That such an ignorant, self-serving, self-aggrandizing buffoon could actually be even considered fit for ANY public office, let alone the highest one in the most powerful democracy in the world, says a lot about the current level of political intelligence in America…

    1. And it is also with amusement, and quite a bit of pity, that we Americans look at folks like you, Predrag, seeing that when you really don’t know what you’re talking about you resort to ad hominem arguments. Trump, while certainly self-aggrandizing – as is any politician, non-American ones especially – is in no way “ignorant,” and you simply betray your own ignorance and level of political intelligence with such a puerile tactic.

      (Then again, our home-grown liberals do the same thing when they can’t attack on an argument’s merits – which is virtually all the time – so perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so harsh.)

      1. I don’t think I was arguing anything here; it was merely my observation about Trump. I am willing to give in on the ‘ignorant’ argument, as I’m not exactly completely convinced of that one, although I’m pretty sure his expertise in business (especially, real estate business) doesn’t necessarily translate into general knowledge and acumen.

        My primary observation was that he was a buffoon, and it is difficult for anyone to argue against that one, considering the volumes of embarrassing coverage he had received throughout decades. During the years of living in America, I have met Americans of all political beliefs, from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal (although more of them were on the conservative side), and all of them have consistently shared very similar opinion about Trump, which I summed up and shared above.

        There are many, many very intelligent men who share conservative (and Republican) values, who would be infinitely more appropriate candidates than Trump. But the only one with a reality TV show is Trump, so he’s the most popular, regardless of merit.

        1. He filed for bankruptcy three-times in twenty-years! And there are a couple of lawsuits pending over his business ethics.

          I’m a citizen and I think he’s a maroon. He’s a goldfish! Watch him talk and his mouth becomes fish lips.

          Perhaps emmayche is ready to turn over the reins of government to a mediocre businessman with a flair for marketing, but the American people aren’t.

          The Donald represents everything that is absolutely garish, gaudy, and tasteless about America and your observation wasn’t too far off.

    2. and yet Obama was elected.
      At least Reagan was a Governor, so it is a little disingenuous to call him an actor as calling Carter a peanut farmer, JFK a boat captain, Ike a baby killer, or FDR an elitist.

      But keeping it in perspective, you are right when applying the ‘current level of political intelligence’ to our inexperienced 44th President.

      1. I really have no problem calling people by their “permanent” profession – “President of the USA” is a temp job.

        Reagan WAS an actor, not to mention the president of an actor’s union. An actor’s job doesn’t simply entail repeating words.

        Carter WAS a peanut farmer. He was also a nuclear reactor specialist in the Navy. I disagree with much of his world view, but anyone who calls him an idiot (as many of my friends have) will find an argument with me.

        Ike helped defend the world from Nazism. ‘Nuff said.

        FDR was of “the elite,” but the furthest thing from an “elitist.” Even though mostly confined to a wheelchair, his entire family had the attitude of public service. While his policies from an economic point of view almost REQUIRED a war to recover from, no one can doubt that he was an effective leader, and his emotional healing of the country from its troubles was likely worth the economic price.

        Obama was a community organizer. And here is where Thumper’s Law applies. (“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”)

        1. Not knowing much about your current president, I had to look into this “Community Organiser” thing. Apparently, that job (Director of the Developing Communities Project) was fairly early in his life. It looks like his more credit worthy jobs (which I have a hard time finding anywhere in the media) were as a law professor at the Chicago University Law School, and as an attorney at a civil rights law firm. I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems like a decent resume (surely no worse than Nixon’s, who only worked as an attorney before entering politics; or being an actor and nothing else, with all the respect duly given to Reagan for precipitating the end of cold war, among other of his accomplishments).

          What is most fascinating about American political mindset is the selective memory. And this isn’t just about politics: Americans will simply ignore and not even bother to know the things they don’t like. When American ‘Dream Team’ was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the summer of 2002 Basketball World Championship (in Indiana, of all places) by Yugoslavia, the next day, the American public simply ceased to even know that the event was actually taking place in their own back yard. Yugoslavia went on to take the gold, but if you asked Americans on Monday after who was the world champion in Basketball, they would ALL answer “Well, USA, of course!”. This same attitude is persistent across American political landscape: if some information about a politician does not line up with your impression of him, that information simply ceases to exist for you. And this is consistent across the entire spectrum (progressive or conservative).

          1. Oh Predrag… (sigh) some Americans are those things you say they are, generally speaking but, let’s be clear, America doesn’t have an exclusive on ignorance or choosing to omit or overlook the truth.

            We’re all pretty much the same around the world and you know what? When all of our basic needs have been met, all of us are pretty decent people. Surpass our basic needs and we all rise to the challenge of making the world a better place.

            Having said that though, there are that few ten-percent that are just plain rotten to the core who will never be satisfied with their own happiness.

            You could pass the pipe and break bread with these people and come away thinking you’ve made a connection, but be sorry you ever turned your back on them.

            1. G4Dualie,

              Please forgive me if I have offended you by generalising a nation of over 300 million people. You are also absolutely right that Americans are far from alone on ignorance or overlooking the truth. I suppose we never recognise our own bad habits, but always tend to point out the things we don’t like in others.

              I must have been personally irked by the example I had mentioned, which led me to such broad generalisation. Sorry about that.

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