Senator Charles Schumer called for the Federal Trade Commission to force Apple and Google to crack down on their mobile phone privacy policies, which allows application makers to store phone photos on remote servers.
that applications running on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG) Android handsets lift users' photos and contacts and post them
online unbeknownst to users has a U.S. senator urging the Federal Trade
Commission to look into the matter.
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to the FCC that he didn't like the
fact that applications running on iPhones and Android phones can tap into users'
photo albums on the Web, as well as the previous revelation by a software programmer
that apps running on Apple's iOS platform can siphon a user's entire address
book of contacts.
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," Schumer said in a letter to the FTC, seen by Reuters
. Schumer worries that the terms of
service Apple and Google arranged for their third-party app stores are not
being properly enforced.
comes after The New York Times
uncovered some disturbing information, first about iOS apps, and then about
Android programs running on smartphones.
when a user allows an app on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to have access to
location information, the app can copy the user's entire photo library, without
Worse, the Times
noted that Android apps do not need
permission to get a user's photos. If an app has the right to access the Internet,
it can copy those photos to a remote server without notifying users.
defended its practice, noting that it designed an Android photo file system
similar to those of other computing platforms like Windows and Mac OS.
came two weeks after social network service Path and several other makers of
iOS applications acknowledged storing users' address books on remote servers
without users' explicit permission. Address books include full names, phone
numbers and email addresses.
Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and Commerce, Manufacturing
and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member G. K. Butterfield sent a letter Feb. 15 to
Apple CEO Tim Cook requesting more information about the company's privacy
Apple responded rapidly by ordering any app that wants to
access user contact data will require explicit user approval
that collect or transmit a user's contact data without their prior permission
are in violation of our guidelines," Apple claimed in a statement Feb. 15.
"We're working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have
done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will
require explicit user approval in a future software release."
If the FTC is
looking to crack the whip on Apple and Google, those companies may have to make
changes regarding their current privacy policies.
certainly hopes so, noting in his letter to the FTC that "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