Lawmakers questioning Apple over location data | iLounge News

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Lawmakers questioning Apple over location data

A group of lawmakers in Washington are interested to know more about how Apple is collecting its users’ location data and exactly what it is doing with it. According to the Washington Post, Reps. Edward J. Markey and Joe Barton, co-chairman of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, have sent a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking several questions related to Apple’s recently updated privacy policy that says it may collect and share users’ location data. “Given the limited ability of Apple users to opt out of the revised policy and still be able to take advantage of the features of their Apple products, we are concerned about the impact the collection of such data could have on the privacy of Apple’s customers,” the pair wrote in the letter. According to the report, the letter asks several questions, including “Which specific Apple products are being used by Apple to collect geographic location data?,” “What internal procedures are in place to ensure that any location data is stored “anonymously in a form that does not personally identify” individual consumers?,” and “Who are the unspecified “partners and licensees” with which Apple shares this location data, and what are the terms and conditions of such information sharing? How does this comply with the requirements of Section 222 of the Communications Act, which mandates that no consumer location information be shared without the explicit prior consent of the consumer?”

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Comments

1

I wouldn’t be surprised that Apple is “crazy like a fox” on publishing their location/privacy policy, prompting Congressional attention-whoring like this.

Why? Because bureaucracy / red tape is the bane of players without lots of infrastructure, and experience in the lobbying game in Washington. (Phone co’s and banks, IIRC, are the two biggest lobbying industries.)

So, what’s Google’s policy on privacy? When I looked at their terms, “most” of the data they collect could not “by itself” identify a user and his location. Just today, they have pulled an app that collected and reported user data surreptitiously, but their system was not strong enough to prevent that collection, as Apple’s explicit opt-in is.

Likewise, other phone manufacturers and carriers, even individual software developers can collect this info on other phones. If the Congressional interest is the least bit even-handed, they will have to query as many as a thousand other firms that, under Android or other systems’ lack of controls, could invade a user’s privacy.

This looks like bad PR for Apple, but I’ll wager it doesn’t go too long before Apple can say, “we’re squeaky clean and the rest of the industry has no idea how secure the data is.”

Posted by Walt French on June 25, 2010 at 4:45 PM (CDT)

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