Senator Pushes for FTC Investigation into iOS, Android Privacy

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Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into Apple and Google’s practices to ensure user privacy on mobile devices. His request follows reports that the platforms allow apps to upload personal data such as contacts and photos without user consent.

Senator Schumer wants FTC to investigate mobile privacySenator Schumer wants FTC to investigate mobile privacy

Concerns over mobile privacy flared up again after news that iOS apps can upload user’s contact database to remote servers without any warning. That was followed by a report that developers have access to user’s photo libraries, too.

Reports initially targeted Apple’s iOS for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch as the primary problem, although word later surfaced that Android-based devices have similar potential privacy issues.

“These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app’s functionality,” Senator Schumer said in his letter, according to Reuters.

He added that uploading contacts and photos to developer’s servers without direct consent violates the terms of service for both platforms, although its unclear what Apple and Google are doing to enforce those rules.

Apple has already endorsed a set of privacy protection principles for mobile devices. Along with Microsoft, HP, Google, Amazon and RIM, Apple will be working to refine the guidelines related to mobile privacy and to make it more obvious when users are sharing personal information with developers.

The Senator echoed those ideas in his FTC letter by stating, “smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user’s personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public.”

Apple has not commented on Senator Schumer’s FTC investigation request.

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Comments

Norm

What a putz, we’re facing $4-5 gas prices and he is worried about Apple &Google;, why doesn’t he instead launch an investigation into the oil companies and stock manipulators affecting gas prices, not to mention all the other problems with the economy.

People, quit voting in the same jerks, over and over again, make them accou table.

aardman

The good senator is just trying to smell a little better, hoping his constituents will forget that even though he’s a Democrat, he has been one of the biggest defenders of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the whole fetid tribe of Wall Street fat cats that nearly brought down our economy and still have not gone to jail, not one of them, for their crimes.

Morty

why doesn?t he instead launch an investigation into the oil companies

Actually, he has.

vpndev

Dear Senator - why limit the investigation to mobile??

Make it privacy on all devices and in all situations.

Dorje Sylas

Yes, I would like them to broaden that investigion to things like EA’s Origin download service. It’s not just phone’s that are sucking more personal data then they should but web sites and consumer computer programs as well.

Aftermac

Personally, I have some serious concerns about Apple’s ability to keep my personal data secure. My iTunes account was compromised two years ago, and I haven’t used any of Apple’s online “stores” ever since. Currently, I am working with iTunes tech support to get a new account setup without a credit card, since following Apple’s KB article for that process isn’t working for me. If I want to purchase something in the future, I will just use gift cards in small dollar amounts to avoid credit card hassles, and large amounts of money to be stolen.

Here is a (now) 86 page discussion on Apple’s website where person after person describes how their account was “hacked” all in a similar fashion, and other than refunds, the customers concerns are blown off.

iTunes Store Account Hacked

I also posted about this a few days ago in the Mac Observer forums.

iTunes / Apple ID Security

One of my biggest concerns is, if Apple can tell that a purchase is being made from an unauthorized device, why do they let the transaction go through? Also, why don’t they track down the, what I and others assume are rogue apps, and remove them from the store?

One of the big advantages for using iOS devices IS the security that you get from having a controlled environment, so it is a bit worrisome that this has been going on for so long…

Joe

The “good” Senator better add Dell, HP Leveno, Toshiba, Microsoft, et al to the investigations well. Does he not know that malware on desktops and laptops have been able to get

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