Steve Jobs Says Apple Will Testify in Senate Privacy Hearing

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said his company will testify in Senator Al Franken’s hearing on mobile privacy. In an interview with AllThingsD, the tech icon said that the mobile industry has done a poor job of educating customers about privacy and data collection, and that he looked forward to being able to further clarify these issues with regulators and legislators.

Apple and Google were both invited to attend a hearing on mobile privacy that Senator Al Franken convened in the wake of revelations about the kinds of data collected or stored by both Apple and Google on smartphones. Android devices were found to be transmitting location data and a unique identifier back to Google, while Apple’s iPhones and iPads were found to be storing a lot of location data on the user’s computer.

“I think Apple will be testifying,” Mr. Jobs said in the interview, the first intimation from the company that it would attend the hearing. “They have asked us to come and we will honor their request of course.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Apple posted a F.A.Q. on the subject, including the acknowledgment that storing that location data was a bug and a promise to correct that in a future iOS update.

“Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone,” the company said in its F.A.Q. “Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”

Speaking with Ina Fried, Mr. Jobs declined the opportunity to specifically comment on the practices of competitors, but did say, “Some of them don’t do what we do. That’s for sure.”

In an email that Mr. Jobs reportedly sent to a customer asking about location data, Mr. Jobs was a little more explicit. When the customer (erroneously) said that Google doesn’t track customers, Mr. Jobs said, “Oh yes they do.”

It’s a complicated issue, however, and Mr. Jobs told CNet that he is curious about how hard the press is going to dig into the practices of other companies (read: Google), and he said that the industry as a whole hasn’t done a good enough job in explaining to customers all of the issues involved.

“As new technology comes into the society there is a period of adjustment and education,” Mr. Jobs said. “We haven’t as an industry done a very good job educating people I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here. As such (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week.”