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Congress Continues to Look into Mobile Privacy

Washington, DC
Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Senate is continuing its investigation into reports from last month that showed Apple's iPhones collected location data and stored it for up to a year, even when the location software was turned off – a problem Apple says it has since fixed with a software patch.

The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, held a hearing to discuss consumer privacy concerns and to explore the possible role of the federal government in protecting consumers in the mobile marketplace.

Today's  witnesses include Bret Taylor, Chief Technology Officer, Facebook; Catherine A. Novelli, Vice President, Worldwide Government Affairs, Apple Inc.; and Alan Davidson, Director of Public Policy for the Americas, Google Inc. 

Subcommittee members brought up recently released draft proposals, such as “The Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011.”  Introduced  by Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV) on May 9, the bill aims to offer protections to consumers by preventing Web companies from tracking Internet surfing activities that are shared with advertisers. "Recent reports of privacy invasions have made it imperative that we do more to put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their personal information," Rockefeller said in a statement following the bill's introduction.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing entitled “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy.” Committee members focused their questions on whether Apple’s iPhone or devices running Google’s Android platform hold records of user's location without their owner’s knowledge or consent. The hearing also looked at what protections exist on current law, where the loopholes are regarding the newer mobile technologies, and what might be done legislatively to fill any gaps.

Updated: Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:59pm (ET)

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