Senator Franken Asks Google, Apple for Clear Privacy Policies


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While many have moved on from the "shocking" revelations concerning mobile phone privacy, thanks to the discovery of iPhone's location tracking, some politicians are keeping the necessary fires burning. In fact, Senator Al Franken went even further, demanding the parent companies of these devices provide answers concerning these phones and the related privacy.

The two companies in question, are, of course, Apple and Google, makers of the iPhone and the Android OS, respectively. After representatives from both companies answered questions about location privacy on Capitol Hill, stemming from the iPhone issue, Senator Franken issued a letter to both asking them to clarify their policies on mobile device privacy.

iPhone Tracking

It's becoming clear Franken is one of the few politicians in the government who champion the user over the provider -- at least on certain issues, anyway.

In his letter to Apple and Google (PDF), Franken's target were the location-based applications that both environments so readily feature:

Although I believe there is a greater need for transparency and disclosure for the collection and sharing of all personal information, at a minimum, I ask that you require all location-aware applications in your app stores to provide privacy policies that clearly specify what kind of location information is gathered from users, how that information is used, and how it is shared with third parties. These apps constitute only a subset of all the apps available at your stores.

Franken goes on to say that since both companies tout their commitment to users' privacy, this is their time to prove that what they say is what they practice. The senator also indicates that while such information wouldn't eliminate privacy issues in the mobile industry, it would be a simple first step that could clear up a great deal of confusion.

Bud Tribble, Vice President of Software Technology at Apple, indicated that to better serve users, privacy controls are something that needs to be apart of the application's programming, because Tribble doesn't feel users would ignore the policies Franken's asking for, something South Park covered quite nicely.

What say you? Is privacy in relation to mobile devices an issue that will ever be solved without the potentially-devastating intervention of the government? Let us know in the comments.