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Technology Policy

Congress Looks into Protecting Mobile Privacy

Washington, DC
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reports last month revealed that 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. Obtaining and using this collected information is the concern of Senator Al Franken (D-MN) who has called a hearing on the issue today.

Apple Inc.vice president of software technology Guy "Bud" Tribble testified on the matter today at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing entitled “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy.” He  appeared alongside Alan Davidson, Google Inc. director of public policy for the Americas region.

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 holes are regarding the newer mobile technologies, and what might be done legislatively to fill any gaps.

Chairman Franken has expressed concern that the information could possibly be used for spamming or more serious issues as robbing homes and identify theft. Franken also took issue with the fact that the data might be collected from minors who happen to have iPhones.

The hearing will feature two panels, which will include testimony from Federal Trade Commission Jessica Rich and Jason Weinstein from the Department of Justice. The Apple and Google executives followed in a second panel, along with technology policy experts.

Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 5:07pm (ET)

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