Franken Calls Hearing on Smartphones and Privacy
Congress's top privacy cops are officially diving into the growing furor over smart phones that track users' every move.
Chairman Al Franken, D-Minn., has called a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law to examine mobile technology and privacy on May 10.
"Recent advances in mobile technology have allowed Americans to stay connected like never before and put an astonishing number of resources at our fingertips," Franken said in a statement.
"But the same technology that has given us smart phones, tablets, and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location."
Media reports last week revealed that Apple's iPhone operating software collects information of users' locations and stores it in an unencrypted file. Google's Android software also collects and transmits users' locations but the company insists it solicits the owner's consent.
Franken said he has invited representatives from both Google and Apple to testify at the hearing, which he called the first step in making sure federal privacy laws keep up with technology.
Representatives from the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission, and the Center for Democracy and Technology are scheduled to testify.
Over the weekend, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., called for a congressional investigation into mobile privacy issues and said he would introduce legislation that would prevent children from being tracked.
"Do you know where your children are is a question that every parent should know the answer to. But predators shouldn't be able to hack into an iPhone or Android to find out for themselves, with devastating consequences for families," Markey wrote in a statement.
"Unprotected personal location information could be a treasure trove for troublemakers. Apple needs to ensure that an iPhone doesn't become an iTrack, and an iTrack doesn't become an iTragedy, especially for children and their families.
Both Markey and Franken sent letters to Apple after last week's revelations.