Franken: Apple, Google Testifying at Senate Privacy Hearing

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U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) issued a statement on Thursday confirming Apple and Google will both be present at a special hearing he called to look into mobile device tracking and privacy. Senator Franken scheduled the Senate hearing after word surfaced that the iPhone maintains a location database that’s copied to users computers during syncing.

Senator Al FrankenSenator Franken to question Apple on iPhone privacy

Apple found itself the target of negative press when security researchers released an application that accessed an iPhone backup file loaded with location data and displayed the content on a map. In some cases, nearly a year’s worth of data was available, and unless users explicitly encrypted their iPhone backup files, the information was open to anyone with access to their computer.

Senator Franken, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, responded by sending a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking for details on what Apple is tracking, and how that data is being used. After word surfaced that Android OS was collecting location data and transmitting it to Google, he scheduled a Senate hearing where he expected both companies to testify.

“I’m pleased that Apple and Google have confirmed that they’ll be sending representatives to testify at my upcoming hearing on mobile technology and privacy,” Senator Franken said. “This hearing will serve as a first step in investigating if federal law protecting consumer privacy — particularly when it relates to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets — is keeping pace with advances in technology.”

Apple has already issued a public statement saying the location data stored on user’s iPhones lets the device locate its position faster since it doesn’t have to rely only on GPS data. The company also said the location data is a list of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers that are typically within 100 miles of the user.

Apple also said it isn’t using any data to track iPhone user’s locations.

“Each of the witnesses at the hearing will play a critical role in helping us better understand this complex issue and I look forward to hearing from them,” he added.

Senator Franken’s hearing is scheduled for 10AM eastern time on Tuesday, May 10.

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Just what we need, that idiot Franken inserting himself into this issue.


Just what we need

As Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law it’s his job to look into this sort of thing.


Just what we need, silly commentators inserting politics into this forum.

Lee Dronick

Senator Franken is no idiot. You may not like his political ideology, or comedy, but he is quite intelligent.


distarr7 said: Just what we need, silly commentators inserting politics into this forum.

Ah yes, but we have those of your persuasive, enlightened intellect to negate such silliness . . . the entire issue is political and cannot be addressed without bending political.

Dean Lewis

I sent a letter a few days ago to Franken via his website. A lot of congresspeople only accept mail from their own constituents, but I received no such notice on Franken’s page. I urged him to focus on privacy at large and not just on Apple or Google. While the hearing has already begun, you all can have your say and urge “the idiot” to use this opportunity to bring many privacy issues to the public knowledge, despite the limited coverage by most of the major media outlets. I’m willing to give the benefit of doubt that Franken is doing his job as head of the privacy subcommittee, but he needs to know we want him to press the media into covering the full story. So, take a few minutes and send him your thoughts:

John Dingler, artist

Dean, did you tell the well-meaning Frankin that the US Patriot Act allows big gubm’nt to spy on anyone, anywhere, for as long as it wants. I am guessing that the gubm’nt is too big for Frankin to call up to Capitol Hill to testify. He could call up the CIA and the NSA to tell us all they know about how they spy on us using frakazoid Poindexter’s Echelon, errr…, I mean the same thing but now called by another name. He was head of the then “New Domestic Espionage Office.” Yes, domestic espionage as inside the USA.

I am sure that not it has been subsumed into the jobs program, Homeland Security.


Anybody who has heard Franken speak wouldn’t think he is an idiot unless they suffered the exact infliction claimed of him. The guy is sharp on his feet, comes across as genuine, and is perceptive.

He also is interesting. Graduated from Harvard (yawn), but also the French Culinary Institute (maybe harder to get into then Harvard). Not to mention his writing and comedy credentials.

Further, when a chunk of people voice concern about something there is nothing wrong with asking questions of the source of concern. If all the Senators were molded in Franklin’s image, the Country would be better off.

Just what we need, that idiot Franken inserting himself into this issue.

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