Senator Al Franken has released a letter written to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Larry Page, in which he asks the companies to create privacy policies for all apps available on their respective mobile platforms. Franken, who recently headed a meeting of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law which representatives from both Apple and Google attended, asked the two companies “to require clear and understandable privacy policies for all of their apps.” As published by AppleInsider, the letter also states that “Apple and Google have each said time and again that they are committed to protecting users’ privacy. This is an easy opportunity for your companies to put that commitment into action.”
Franken continued, “Although I believe there is a greater need for transparency and disclosure for the collection and sharing of all personal information, at a minimum, I ask that you require all location-aware applications in your app stores to provide privacy policies that clearly specify what kind of information is being gathered from users, how that information is used, and how it is shared with third parties. These apps constitute only a subset of all of the apps available on your stores.” Privacy on mobile devices, and on Apple’s in particular, became a hot topic in recent weeks following a report claiming that iOS 4 devices were regularly recording their positions to hidden files, leading to charges of secret location tracking against Apple, and prompting the company to post a Q&A document discussing the collection of location data on iOS devices.