Franken sets hearing on iPhone tracking

Apple, Google reps invited to participate

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) does not want to be watched and is pretty sure you don't want to be either.

In response to reports that Apple is tracking iPhone users’ every move, he is ready to face off with representatives from Google and Apple in person.

Franken, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, has invited Apple and Google representatives to participate in a hearing titled “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smart Phones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy.” It will be held at the Dirksen Senate office building May 10.

“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,” Franken said in a statement.

In an April 20 letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Franken posed several questions, including, “Why does Apple collect and compile this location data?” and “Does Apple believe this conduct is permissible under the terms of its privacy policy?” Several media sources, a law case and a metric report were cited in the letter.

Although most mobile services companies collect the longitude and latitude data of their customers, it was reported last week that Apple is storing this information in unprotected, unencrypted way. Information can be collected by mobile providers to create a sort of cache to assist the devices in searching for information more quickly, but it is usually stored behind a firewall.

Confirmed for the hearing so far are officials from the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Projects on Consumer Privacy, and a privacy researcher. 

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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