Apple, Google to face U.S. Senator Al Franken’s subcommittee in mobile privacy hearing

“The revelation last month that Apple’s iPhones collected location data and stored it for up to a year — even when location software was supposedly turned off — has prompted renewed scrutiny of the nexus between location and privacy,” Diane Bartz reports for Reuters. “On Tuesday, senior Apple and Google executives will submit to questions from a congressional panel on how location-tracking may violate users’ rights.”

Bartz reports, “Smartphone and advertising companies argue that they use data on what users like (which they know because users use the phone to check prices); where they are (which they know because of contact with cell phone towers); and who their friends are (which they know from social media like Facebook) to give their customers ads for products they are most likely to buy. ‘There are terrific things about mobility. There’s a lot of good stuff that can come out of this,’ said Joseph Turow, who follows marketing for the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.”

“But the discomfort comes with the failure of companies — ranging from smartphone makers, to app makers, to advertisers — to disclose to customers what information they are collecting and what they will do with it, said a staffer for Democratic Senator Al Franken, chairman of the online privacy subcommittee that will hold Tuesday’s hearing,” Bartz reports. “Witnesses will include Google and Apple executives, as well as Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department officials.”

“Tuesday’s inquiry remains just that: lawmakers seeking more information on the technology and its potential uses. But the risk is, if public concern snowballs into consumer outrage, that lawmakers may eventually pass laws restricting such activity” Bartz reports. “Already three online privacy bills have been introduced — by Representatives Bobby Rush and Jackie Speier and by Senators John McCain and John Kerry. It’s far too early to tell which, if any, of them might become law… Franken has not yet decided what he would like to see in a bill, his staffers say.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s Bud Tribble to testify in U.S. Senator Al Franken’s Judiciary Subcommittee hearings on mobile privacy – May 6, 2011
Apple and Google head to Washington D.C. for hearing – May 6, 2011
Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 – May 4, 2011
Apple, Google set to testify at U.S. Congressional hearing on location data to begin May 10th – May 2, 2011
Steve Jobs: Apple isn’t tracking anyone; looks forward to testifying before Congress – April 27, 2011
Apple releases Q&A on Location Data: ‘Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone’ – April 27, 2011
U.S. Senate Democrat Franken to hold mobile privacy hearing; Apple, Google summoned – April 26, 2011
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


  1. Your american senators are retards. I have my head so far up my backhole and too ignorant to understand social networks like facebook collect and sell this info to advertisers on home computers and laptops. Apple doesnt just give this info away for $hits and giggles as does google to line its gravey bowl with extra funds.
    Now something very important regarding collecting info for products, I love marketing ads that are…. marketed… for.. ME. I dont want to see ads about tampons and how maxipads will set me free. Im a guy, i want guy stuff. so this is better. Ads that reach their target audience, wow smart stuff!
    Now, on a paranoid level… anyone who things a device that collects such information, who you are, were you are, what youre looking at and buying…. no one THAT paranoid and distrustful of misused data collection who has an AIRMILES card, or any other shopping card that is similar can ever whine about privacy and data collection.

    1. I have my head so far up my backhole and too ignorant to understand social networks like facebook collect and sell this info to advertisers on home computers and laptops.

      Well, we can agree on something. There is a medication for those suffering form Cranial Rectum Inversion.

  2. Not that I am against strengthening the rights of citizens, but what happened to “leave business alone” and “let the free market take care of it.” I suppose that it depends on whose cause the government supports 😉

  3. And yet, I believe that the FCC demands that all of the mobile devices with GPS ability report their locations. What to do. What to do. Apple lets you turn it off now. (I think that isn’t legal.) And Franken and the others don’t want people tracked so they can vote as many times in as many places without leaving a trail. This could mean the end of the Democrat party!

    1. … weren’t you one of the nut jobs complaining about you privacy protections back when we were just learning about this? Now, because it isn’t your Tea-Baggers doing the investigating, this invasion of your personal space is your personal right? Demand every wanna-be voter present their Birth Certificate at the polling place, and they damn well better not have moved in the past four years!

      1. I don’t know… I kind of can get behind your idea. Except show the long form version of your states birth certificate. Make sure there is no doubt for liars er Truther’s, Teabaggers, Birther’s, Coughee Astrturpher’s and Union Rent-A-Mob types.

        We can even have KKK white suprimists and New Black Panther thugs make sure there are no problems at each of the polling places.

        It would be interesting to see the TRUE voting results, IF this were implemented for the next election and compare them to the last ten elections.

  4. No Microsloth or RIP? WTF? Why only Apple & Google? Everybody is collecting data! I think this is yet another attempt of distraction in order for people to forget the real issues like economy for example?

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