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Rockefeller Questions Firms On Kid Privacy

May 18, 2011

Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will press Google and Apple executives Thursday about whether applications available on their mobile phones might violate a children's online privacy law.

In letters to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Rockefeller questioned whether apps provided by the firms or third-party apps sold for their mobile devices are aimed at children under 13 and whether they are in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Rockefeller sent a similar letter to the Association for Competitive Technology, which represents the makers of many smart phone applications.

The children's online privacy law bars the collection of data from children under the age of 13 without parental consent. The Federal Trade Commission is currently reviewing the law to see if it needs to be updated to reflect the evolving ways children access the Internet including on mobile phones and gaming devices.

Representatives from the association and Google and Apple are set to appear Thursday at a Commerce hearing on consumer privacy issues related to the mobile marketplace. The issue has gained new attention in recent weeks given concerns about location data stored on Google's Android device and Apple's iPhone.

"I am concerned that some applications running on today's mobile platforms may be violating laws that are intended to protect children," Rockefeller said in a statement. "My hope is that Apple, Google and the ACT can shed light on mobile app practices so that we can make sure children are protected."

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