Apple Taps Veteran Bud Tribble for Senate Privacy Hearing

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Apple has tapped Bud Tribble to represent the company in Senator Al Franken’s May 10th Senate hearing titled, “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy.” Mr. Tribble is a Silicon Valley legend, having been part of the small team that developed the original Macintosh, who then left the company with then-ousted CEO Steve Jobs to help found NeXT Computer. Today, he is VP of Software Technology at Apple.

The Senate hearing was convened by Senator Franken following revelations about the ways in which Google and Apple were collecting location data through their smartphone platforms (Android for Google and iPhone for Apple).

“This hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers’ privacy-particularly when it comes to mobile devices-keep pace with advances in technology,” Mr. Franken said in a statement announcing the hearing. “The same technology that has given us smartphones, tablets, and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location.”

Since the location data collection and storage (in the case of Apple) revelations were made, Apple has released iOS 4.3.3, an update that fixes what the company called a bug behind the storage issue. The company also issued a statement saying that the company didn’t track individuals but was assembling a database of WiFi networks and cell towers used in the location services central to many popular apps and services on the iPhone.

Steve Jobs had already intimated that his company would accept the invitation to testify in the Senate hearing, and on Friday, the senator’s office released the names of those who would be there. Joining Mr. Tribble will be Alan Davidson, Director of Public Policy, Americas for Google, as well as representatives from the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Association for Competitive Technology, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Ashkan Soltani, an independent researcher.

Bud Tribble

Bud Tribble, speaking at Harvard University


Lee Dronick

The trouble with Tribbles

It is going to be an interesting hearing, I will be on FUD watch.

John Dingler, artist

I doubt that even Bud Tribble will be able to quench the Congress’s thirst for more funds from Apple and Google.

The essence of the hearing is to yak yak over “the ways in which Google and Apple were collecting location data through their smartphone….” Notice the focus on the ways that Google and Apple do it, not that they do it at all. So their method is being scrutinized.

Little known is that the SEC mandates that smartphones implement location services, this we know. This means that location tracking—over which much ado is being made—, known at Apple as location services, would seem to be just fine with Franken, yes?

We also have to ask why the focus on Google and Apple, and perhaps, by extension, on other smartphone OEMs? This is puzzling since location services is a subcategory of domestic spying.

Two segments of America do most of the bad spying:
1. The National Security State Apparatus is one. Its mandate is confusingly stated in the US Fascist Act, stampeted into ironclad law by the dastardly Bush administration’s NeoCons.
2. The other is corporate, its major players being ChoicePoint, Equifax, Experian, Transunion, etc. Much of what they collect is coerced, then that data is compared to create profiles and the likely behaviors of individuals, something people do not sign on to willingly.

So are these two latter categories of major and egregious domestic spying OK but the relatively innocuous domestic spying performed by Apple and Google’s not? If so, why?

Part of the answer may lie in Congress’ failure to pass the campaign finance reform bill. While it can’t extort the National Security State Apparus effectively, it figures that, since it got oodles of campaign finance money donated by ChoicePoint, et al, it could also get an appropriate amt. from Apple & Google.

This is my interpretation of this thing which, in my opinion, is overblown.

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