U.S. Senate Democrat questions Apple, Google, Microsoft on Wi-Fi data

“A U.S. Senator wants to know whether six big tech companies gather personal data from local wireless, or Wi-Fi, networks, and what they do with the information,” Jennifer Valentino-DeVries reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D – Conn.) made the request in a letter Tuesday to Google Inc., Apple Inc., Microsoft Inc. and three other companies,” Valentino-DeVries reports. “Gathering information from wireless networks ‘raises issues regarding what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy’ for people who install networks to share files or tap the Internet, Mr. Blumenthal wrote.”

“Sen. Blumenthal asked the companies to describe what data they get from Wi-Fi networks and how they get it. He also asks them to describe the data and collection methods they have ‘contemplated’ using,” Valentino-DeVries reports. “In addition to Google, Apple and Microsoft, Mr. Blumenthal sent his letter to Nokia Corp., BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. and Skyhook Wireless Inc., which offers location information based partly on Wi-Fi network data.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Apple ought to ask the fool what he did in Nam. This is the guy who has no idea how jobs are created. He’s everything that is wrong with the U.S. federal government rolled up into a single moron. Dick wasn’t meant for the U.S. Senate – he’s not even qualified to enter the Special Olympics. Minnesota voters ought to be thanking Connecticut’s every day for making them look a bit less “special” themselves.

    1. Vietnam has nothing to do with this inquiry. So a Senator is asking about what data is gleaned from wifi. It’s not an unreasonable question. This is what members of Congress do. They hold hearings and ask questions to see whether legislation is needed.

      Yes Minnesota should be embarrassed by Bachman.

  2. I want “programs” that eliminate morons like Dick Blumenthal from the U.S. government. Are Connecticut voters brain-dead or what? They make Minnesota voters look informed.

      1. 8^þ
        No, Minnesota did not send that Bachmann anywhere. The people of her legislative district were the offending ones. Do not lump us all. By the way, not many Minnesotans sent Senator Franken either. So, who did you send? Proud of ’em?

        1. My apologies to those Minnesotans who are unfortunately saddled with her because of 30.5% of the population of District 6 voting for her. (28.5% voted Democratic, 6.6% voted Independent.)

          Many of us here were happy to have our representative become a freshman in DC. It got her out the state Senate, putting her in a position of less power where she does less damage. (I live in a ‘red state’ where public employees have always been forbidden by law to engage in collective bargaining. Strange how we’re still in the top 10 for budget woes, like Texas. I thought it was those evil unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, etc., that caused all the problems.)

    1. … of course.
      Amazing how a question of privacy is posted here and the Nopublicans, who supposedly HATE big government and intrusion on personal privacy claim it’s the idiot Dems who are at fault while the Dems, who supposedly hate regressive legislation, get all lathered about why …
      Anyway. Is there No Way to talk about this without dragging either group of clowns forward in an attempt to make fun of the other group of clowns? This is supposedly about Apple products.

      1. While I don’t follow the latest trending slurs for Democrats and Republicans, those of us in the Libertarian camp have had the solution for years.

        Cut their funds. We should cut their income (slash taxation rates and many schemes all together) but also pay for all Federal politicians should be cut to 80-100,000/yr. Their staff expendetures and budgets also cut (1 staffer, 1 secretary). There is no reason for us to provide them with anything more.

        For example: becoming the President used to be a financial hardship for the person in office. Throwing fancy parties for your backers and friends came out of your own pocket. Many of our early Presidents left office broke or severely drained for this reason. I think it made people pursue the job for reasons a little more lofty than just making a little coin for purchasing real estate (example: the guy in charge now). The more risk inherent in the job, the heartier the applicants. Why insulate a politician financially? It’s kinda like having a lottery winner dig ditches, his heart just won’t be in it.

        We should also repeal the 17th amendment. In 1913 voters were hoodwinked with the argument that Senators should be elected by popular vote. The idea was that it would be a more fair and pure form of democratic representation. In fact it’s done the opposite, its created a class for the very wealth/popular (though that is bought by wealth these days). A select number of Democrats and Republicans have maintained their seats indefinitely by outspending everyone in a state. This wasn’t how our system was designed, worse it’s a very shaky change to the foundation.

        The 17th amendment created an imbalance in the system of checks and balances in our Federal system. Senators were supposed to function like a state’s ambassador to the Federal Government, and were selected by the people’s elected state governors and representatives to represent the state. Bad Senators were easier to recall, no need to wait for election cycles, it was an appointed job. The people’s interests are already represented by their Congressman to the Federal government, but now state’s have less of an influence on the Feds, because they have been neutered of their main representation and power in the Federal system.

        Alexander Hamilton’s system is way more brilliant than people give him credit for, and I think aside form the obvious amendments for equal rights, we would really benefit to take a serious look at fundamental changes that have been made to the Constitution and consider whether these are worthwhile to keep. I’d advise everyone to read up on the 17th amendment, and the arguments for and against keeping it.

        Every couple years we can argue with each other about the lesser of 2-3 bad candidates, or we can start asking why we are even offering this job in the first place. Maybe instead of hiring another executive, we should get a engineer and at a much lower cost.

        *Also remember your car bumper is for stickers of your favorite band, not people with suits and desk jobs. You’ll find me putting stickers on my bumper from my accountant long before some tacky Obama/whoever tag.

        1. Please explain how cutting their pay and staff is going to *reduce* a politician’s dependence/reliance on big money sources. Also, please explain how putting senators back into the patronage system (Tammany Hall style) is going to increase their accountability to the citizens rather than to the agenda of the governor who appointed them. Perhaps you’d be happier with Plato’s philosopher king?

  3. well, the lead in led me to believe the page was about questions to tech companies about wifi policies (as if they’re wasn’t already enough of that going on in the hearings) but now i see i’ve stumbled into a republican shout out, with not one comment about wifi but all about politics.
    i’ve got my own political leanings, not all one way, actually, but it’s frustrating, with limited time to browse sites for tech info and keep falling into people using sites for political agendas. mdr site itself seems clearly right wing, so i guess it’s like engadget is for android fans..a place to knock what you don’t like, regardless of the stated topic…i’m out, so shout me down if you want..i’m out of hearing range..

    1. Translation: I am disgruntled because I expect you to serve my needs, not I yours. I refuse to participate in the dialogue — it’s beneath me — so, before I leave, I will issue an ad hominem attack, allude to my abundant importance, and leave in a huff.

  4. …blahblahblah…

    So when will the US Senate vote to KILL the so-called ‘Patriot Act’ that allows warrantless surveillance of US citizens? Hmm?!

    Meanwhile, they pester Apple about a file containing a list of Wi-Fi hubs and cell towers. Brilliant fools. It is mere distraction from their own personal privacy crimes.

  5. There’s another group of companies out there that mine and compile your personal data without your consent. they then sell this data to your bank, your employer, and your landlord. There is nothing you can do to stop them, and it is nearly impossible to get mistakes corrected. These companies go by the names, Transunion, Experion, and Equifax, and nobody in Congress or elsewhere is questioning them.

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