Apple, Google Will Appear at Congressional Mobile Privacy Hearing

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 05-09-2011 Print Email
The first hearing of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law will include on its panels Guy Tribble, Apple's vice president of software technology, and Alan Davidson, Google's director of public policy in the Americas.

Apple and Google officials will be part of the first congressional hearing to result from the news that some Apple iPhone and Google Android-running smartphone are collecting extensive location data.

Hosted by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., the hearing will also be the first of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, and will include on its panels Guy Tribble, Apple's vice president of software technology, and Alan Davidson, Google's director of public policy in the Americas.

FCC Deputy Director Jessica Rich, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, will also be participating.

Franken, in a statement, said the "hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers' privacy -- particularly when it comes to mobile devices [such as smartphones, tablets and cell phones] -- keep pace with advances in technology."

"If Senator Franken were to ask me my opinion about the whole issue of privacy and smartphones, I would urge him to focus on raising awareness of the issue, rather than regulating locating technology in modern smartphones," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK in a May 9 email. "What I think is necessary is that users be made aware of how applications are being used to track their location, and how that data is being stored. The information is useful to the companies collecting it, and can be sorted, analyzed, sold, and used for marketing and advertising. Consumers need to be aware of this so that they can make informed decisions about which apps they are willing to allow to collect their user information."

In an April 20 blog post on O'Reilly Radar, two tech researchers wrote that, poking around deep in the files of an iPhone, they'd discovered nearly a year's worth of location data pertaining to the phone, with coordinate details being collected approximately 100 times a day. Worse, the pair wrote, "the file is unencrypted and unprotected, and it's on any machine you've synched with your iOS device."

That smartphone should be location-aware wasn't the surprise -- they need to provide the necessary support information to 911, for example, and to support GPS requests, Technology Business Research analyst Ken Hyers told eWEEK the same day.

For more, read the eWEEK article: Apple, Google Set to Appear at Congressional Hearing on Mobile Privacy.



 

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