April 27th, 2011
Apple, Google Summoned to Senate Hearing On Mobile Device Privacy
Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has called upon Apple and Google to participate in a hearing with the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law in order to discuss consumer privacy. The hearing will take place May 10 at 10 a.m. EDT in Washington, where witnesses from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Center for Democracy and Technology and others will talk about what the latest mobile technology means for privacy and the law.
“Recent advances in mobile technology have allowed Americans to stay connected like never before and put an astonishing number of resources at our fingertips,” Franken said in a statement. “But the same technology that has given us smartphones, tablets and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location. This hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers’ privacy — particularly when it comes to mobile devices — keep pace with advances in technology.”
Device privacy has been an increasingly important topic to lawmakers in recent years, but discussion came to a head last week when two researchers revealed that the iPhone and 3G iPad keep a log file of every location the user has ever been, whether the iOS Location Services are turned on or not. The discovery was neither new nor hidden (and it turns out Google also does some level of location logging as well), but the announcement sparked a deeper look into how technology companies track and store our personal data.
Franken was the first to fire off a letter to Apple over the news, followed by Representative Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts). Both demanded answers about why Apple collects the data, how it’s generated, whether users can disable the location logging and so on.