The consumer protection subcommittee (of the Senate commerce committee) will be holding a hearing Thursday to discuss mobile privacy. Representatives from Apple, Google and Facebook will be there to speak as well as a representative from Common Sense Media.
The consumer protection subcommittee will be discussing consumer privacy rights and discussing industry procedures for mobile data collection. Last week, Apple and Google faced tough questioning from members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee about their company privacy policies.
Representatives from both Apple and Google reiterated that customers have control over whether or not their data is collected. When their data is collected it is done anonymously; furthermore, Apple stated that their device users see an icon that appears when location services are being used.
The software chief from Apple also told the committee that the “bug” in their software that was collecting data from users who had ‘opted-out’ of location services; had been fixed in the latest software update. Senator Al Franken questioned a researcher about time-stamped location data, and if it could be used to trace customer movement.
Researcher Ashkan Soltani replied to Senator Franken that it could be used in that capacity; additionally, claims of “anonymous” data collection isn’t exactly true. The Senator also asked the group about data and information sharing with third-party companies.
Neither company representative gave Senator Franken a direct response. The companies were also questioned by other subcommittee members regarding “Spy-Fi”; Google’s street view cams collecting data from wireless networks in Germany.
Both companies listened to Senator Schumer express concerns again; regarding their hesitation to remove an app they carry that points out where drunk-driving checkpoints are. At the end of the first meeting Tuesday there were very few committee members convinced that any of the companies were doing enough to protect their customer’s privacy rights.