Senate slates second round with Apple, Google over mobile privacy
Panel also wants to hear from Facebook
Computerworld - Congress on Thursday will again grill executives from Apple and Google over mobile privacy concerns.
The hearing before the Senate Commerce committee will be the second in as many weeks, following one held by the body's Judiciary Committee on May 10 that took testimony about location tracking from both companies.
Thursday's hearing, called by the Communications, Technology, and the Internet subcommittee, will also question Facebook.
According to an announcement by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who chairs the Commerce committee, Catherine Novelli, Apple's vice president of worldwide government affairs; Bret Taylor, the CTO of Facebook; and Alan Davidson, Google's director of public policy, are to appear.
Officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Association for Competitive Technology trade group, and Common Sense Media, a consumer digital protection advocacy group, are also slated to speak.
As at the May 10 hearing led by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), this week's will dig into consumer privacy on mobile devices, particularly smartphones.
In that hearing, where Google's Davidson also testified -- Apple sent a different executive, Bud Tribble, the firm's vice president of software technology -- both companies denied that they tracked users' locations, claims that Franken said conflicted with other statements.
Congress jumped into the privacy issue after a pair of British researchers revealed that the iPhone 4 concealed an unencrypted file containing thousands of location data entries going back almost a year. The unsecured file was also backed up on users' PCs and Macs during synchronization.
A week later, Apple said it was not tracking users, but that the data was simply harvested-from-users information of cell tower and Wi-Fi networks positions. The data is used to pinpoint the phone's physical location faster than can GPS.
Although Facebook does not produce a mobile operating system, the powerful social networking site has been regularly criticized for its lax privacy controls, most recently last week when Symantec security researchers called out Facebook for leaking personal information of nearly 100,000 users to advertisers and others.
Facebook denied it had spilled details of its users.
Facebook is also fighting a California privacy bill that would ensure social networking services to require users set up their privacy settings when they first register.
This week's Senate hearing will start at 10 a.m. ET. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) chairs the subcommittee.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
- 3 privacy violations you shouldn't worry about
- U.S. commercial drone industry struggles to take off
- Snowden leaks erode trust in Internet companies, government
- NSA phone metadata collection program renewed for 90 days
- NSA isn't evil, says noted civil libertarian
- Franken presses Ford on location data collection practices
- Justices let stand appeals court decision on border searches of laptops
- California lawmakers move to bar state help to NSA
- Appeals court again nixes Google's bid to overturn Street View case
- Older Mac webcams can spy without activating warning light
Read more about Privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!