U.S. House Republicans demand answers from Apple, Google on privacy, data practices

“Four senior U.S. House Republicans sent letters on Monday to the chief executives of Apple Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc asking questions about location data and mobile phone privacy practices and the handling of customer data,” David Shepardson reports for Reuters. “The chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Greg Walden, along with three other senior Republicans on the panel, wrote the companies ‘to probe the companies’ representation of third-party access to consumer data, and the collection and use of audio recording data as well as location information via iPhone and Android devices.'”

“Alphabet did not immediately respond to a request for comment and an Apple spokesman declined to comment,” Shepardson reports. “The letters, made public by the committee on Monday, said the companies may be using consumer data, including location information and recordings of users ‘in ways that consumers do not expect.'”

“The letters asked both companies to respond to questions by July 23 and to brief committee staffers on issues raised,” Shepardson reports. “The letters follow high-profile congressional hearings in April into Facebook Inc’s privacy practices, which included testimony from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: More free advertising for Apple’s privacy protections, especially as compared to Alphabet.

The Committee on Energy and Commerce’s letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook is here.

31 Comments

      1. I concur, applecynic. The problem that I have is that the same Congressional representatives that routinely pontificate about leaving business alone and deregulating and such are the same ones who act all shocked when the unregulated businesses end up doing something undesirable to increase profits. Sometimes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In Congress’ case, it is incapable of prevention and really lousy with cures – a Federal homeopathic facility, if you ask me.

        If you go back to Government attacks on device encryption over the past couple of years, then I would not be surprised to find these same Congresspeople crying for backdoors and broader Government access into mobile devices. Now they try to ascend the bully pulpit and act all concerned about us regular Joe citizens *after* everyone in the world already gathered our personal data from Facebook and OPM and everywhere else. Talk about closing the barn door way too fricking late.

        1. Did you bother to read what he wrote? Obviously not.

          Did you refute what he said or just attack him?

          I suppose you are just up to your daily denigrating of anyone you perceive as politically not on the same page as you.

        2. Once upon a time, the Government was expected to prove accusations of unlawful conduct. Recently, the burden has changed. Officials in the Executive or Legislative branches can apparently accuse anybody they like and then demand that the accused prove their innocence. The Judicial branch and its due process requirements are being sidestepped by an inquisitional process that is repugnant to our Constitution.

          1. Yeah, exactly what I despised of eight years under Obama. Not to mention the false FISA approvals paid for by the Hillary campaign and the rest of the deep state unfairly targeting Trump for years. No outrage, FAKE CONSERVATIVE? …

            1. contrarian: provide examples please. sounds like you’re just another partisan hack here, emboldened by the lack of civility that is on display here at Trump Daily News.

              For the record, TX User, the senators have asked what specifically the companies do with non-triggered data gathered. That is not an unfounded accusation. Nowhere do these companies tell you what it does with the data it snoops when anyone says, Hey Siri. They furthermore cited that Google claimed to change Gmail practices in 2017, while to this day Gmail still allows 3rd parties to buy user’s emails, including message text, email signatures, and other personal content.

              When it comes to the digital big brothers, including self proclaimed data saint Apple, I don’t think you can be too careful. What is sad, however, is that despite the BS rhetoric from the rabid right in the USA, the EU has a functional government that protects the rights and privacy of the individual. They prosecuted Microsoft, they are taking on Google’s invasion of privacy, and they are also putting a stop to nations that establish unfair special tax avoidance schemes for select multinational corporations. All good for EU citizens. Meanwhile after a full decade of republican congressional control, what reforms have been passed? One corporate tax handout. That handout now looks like a nothing burger for citizens in the short term, and a deficit bomb for everyone later: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-taxes/tax-cuts-to-give-little-lift-to-u-s-economy-fed-paper-idUSKBN1JZ28F

              But Goeb/contrarian, since you know best, how about posting the references that you are using to back up your assertions? If anyone on these forums are confrontational and fact-free, it is you.

            2. contrarian,

              Please give examples of when the Obama Administration accused anyone of unlawful conduct and shifted the burden of proof to the accused.

              FISA warrants are a judicial process, not a Star Chamber proceeding before the Legislative or Executive branch, so they really aren’t relevant to my post. Obviously, the Congress can conduct fact finding related to possible legislation, but this looks an awful lot like a formal accusation of wrongdoing against Apple which they are being ordered to refute in a forum that does not provide any due process.

              I am not aware of any “false FISA approvals.” I only know about a real FISA warrant issued after a showing of probable cause (in a 30-page affidavit that barely mentions the Steele dossier) to a FISA judge who was appointed to the bench by a Republican President and confirmed by a Republican Senate, then placed on the FISA Court by a Republican Chief Justice.

              That warrant was later renewed by two other FISA judges, each of whom was also appointed by Republicans, after further showings of probable cause not only that the original warrant was justified but that it had yielded relevant information. Among the limited number of people who have read the warrants and the affidavits that supported them, basically only a couple of staffers working for Rep. Nunes had any problem with their issuance. Saying otherwise is yet another attack by the Legislative Branch on the constitutional functions of an independent Judiciary.

              “Unfairly targeting” President Trump? Perhaps we can continue this discussion after he returns from his annual performance review in Helsinki.

            3. Contrarian/goeb: If you think Jarrett is an accurate source, that says a lot. Jarrett is a talking head whose political positions shift depending on what politician he is supporting at any given time. He’s attempted, without proof, to equate the FBI with the KGB, completely ignoring the democratically elected congressional oversight that is in place for the FBI. Jarrett is also an avowed Trump apologist, claiming “Collusion is not a crime” when the US Constitution clearly sees it differently. Numerous legal experts have ripped apart Jarrett’s many political assertions.

              All that is fact. And that’s before you get into Jarrett’s alcoholism problem, punctuated by a drunk & disporderly arrest in 2014. In that regard he is right up there with Opiod addict Limbaugh.

              Also: if you think yelling at people FAKE CONSERVATIVE is a compelling argument, then you must be just as stupid as Jarrett. The deep state is a made-up scapegoat intended to scare you. Your corrupt political party owns all branches of federal government and the world isn’t any better for it, so you need another scapegoat. We got it.

              Meanwhile, in news today, Dictator Wannabe Trump can’t figure out if Russia is a friend or for, US job quit rate hits a 17 year high, China raises more tariffs on US goods, the POTUS whines about courts striking down his incompetent handling of border detentions; and Pence is plotting with McConnell how to ram through a supreme court hearing in a few weeks instead of stalling for more than half a year like last time — and in a perfect example of how corrupt the right has become, partisan hacks at the Judicial Crisis Network are launching a $1.4 million ad campaign to support nominee Kavanaugh. So much for a court appointee to be fair, apolitical, and impartial, eh?

              The swamp is overcrawling with scummy creatures — but as long as they wear communist red ties and hold elephant signs, then the low-information base is silent to the corruption.

            4. my my my so many insults and so many falsehoods is not worth my time. enjoy your fantasies and biased childish grasp of how Washington and politics works

            5. Mike,

              You missed my choice for most outrageous story of the day. Keep in mind that the Trump family’s fortune begins with renting housing to immigrants and their families in Queens, and that much of the Trump Organization’s current income comes from renting, leasing and managing other real estate.

              So, imagine the President’s response if one of his tenants asserted “All power to the people! My landlord is an oppressor, because only the party in possession has any rights. So-called property ownership is a legal fiction created by the ruling class and enforced by jack-booted thugs.” Suppose further that the tenant set fire to his landlord’s property, was convicted of arson by a jury of his peers, and was sentenced to the mandatory minimum sentence, which was upheld on appeal.

              Do you honestly think that The President would grant a pardon to such a person? Neither did I… until today, when he pardoned two ranchers who used exactly that excuse for setting fire to federal property.

          2. Far be it for me to tell you, “there is no trial here”.

            It’s almost the same as a cop pulling me over to inquire and investigate when they see peculiar behavior.

            And you also know, I’m no Republican.

          3. Before somebody accuses me of going off topic: Both the arbitrary use of legislative authority to further a political agenda and the arbitrary use of executive pardons to further an agenda are symptoms of the same disease, a breakdown in the rule of law.

            I was a criminal prosecutor for thirty years. If I had not already retired, I would have to question the future of the profession. Why bust your gut prosecuting somebody whose conduct was shown by overwhelming evidence to violate a valid criminal statute if the convicted criminal can pull political strings to get off the hook? Why should well-connected individuals follow the law if there are no consequences for breaking it? Why should less-connected individuals respect the law if they can see that it is being applied unevenly?

            Increasingly, we are living in a society that is not ruled by laws but by men, and one man in particular. There is a word for that, and it isn’t “constitutional” or “republic.”

            1. “Increasingly, we are living in a society that is not ruled by laws but by men, and one man in particular.”

              Let me guess, President Trump? Not a surprise FAKE CONSERVATIVE on a daily mission to denigrate our hard working president and LIE about your politics. Your posts betray you and fool NO ONE.

              “I was a criminal prosecutor for thirty years.”

              Well, I doubt it and if you were I’m sure you changed jobs many times. Your posts are anything but fair and balanced. Too much jumping to conclusions, half-truths, bias, conflation and selective prosecution. God help the defendants …

    1. There is no accusation; There is only suspicion and the intent to find out. And MDN’s take is right. The questioning should wind up showcasing Apple’s tight security of personal data, so all of its effort in this area should finally become apparent to all thinking individuals.

      1. One would hope so, that Apple will come off well here.

        But I’m still mindful of the fact that Apple was the one convicted of manipulating the ebook market pricing despite being the minnow in terms of market share, so… (ancient history, I know).

  1. House Republicans “demand” answers on privacy? Are they serious?
    What a load of masquerading BS in preparation for free media exposure and November.

    They could not care less about your privacy nor could the Democrats.

    1. Yes, thanks to a long and history of finding for the corporation at the expense of the normal citizen, beginning in around 1885 with the Vallejo case to today with Citizens United and Mc Cutcheon. All three defined with accretions the personhood of the corporation.

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