Carrier Responses Leave Feeling of Uneasiness
Somewhat less sated, Barton said in his statement that the carriers' responses had left him with a feeling of "uneasiness and uncertainty." "The companies informed us that customer consent before access of location data is a common practice, but the disconnect is when third-party applications come in to play," Barton said. That "third-party developers can access the location of customers anytime they want [is] a huge problem. They shouldn't have free rein over your location data and personally identifiable information. I believe it is time we hold third-party developers accountable, and I am determined to work with other members of Congress to get this done.""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," Franken said. Citing privacy concerns, two Michigan residents have filed a suit against Google, Bloomberg reported April 29. The pair is up in arms regarding the way that their Android OS-running HTC Inspire 4G smartphones have been tracking their whereabouts, "just as if by a tracking device for which a court-ordered warrant would ordinarily be required," the report said, quoting the suit. The pair is seeking "at least $50 million damages" and is requesting that Google be made to "stop tracking its products' users." Apple, whose "brand perception" has reportedly been sullied by the matter, posted a response to similar tracking accusations on its Website April 27. It blamed on "a bug" its iOS 4-running devices preserving quite so much user-location data, which it said it plans to fix. Its main insistence, however, was that, while it is essentially calculating its devices' location based on WiFi hotspot and cell tower data, it is not "tracking the location of your iPhone." The statement added, "Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so."
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., confirmed April 28 that Apple and Google will send representatives to a hearing he plans to hold on the matter. Titled "Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy," it's scheduled to take place May 10 at 10 a.m. EDT.