Apple, Google Agree to Sit Down with Schumer to Discuss User Privacy Concerns

By Beecher Tuttle March 06, 2012

Apple and Google will meet with New York Senator Charles Schumer to discuss reports that applications running on each company's mobile operating system are pilfering users' private information.

The two tech giants agreed to meet with Schumer one day after the Democratic senator sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking the regulatory body to investigate the validity of two New York Times reports, which found that applications sold on iOS and Android are able to steal private photos and address books.

While not naming a specific application in his letter, Schumer was clearly referencing Path, a popular mobile app that was recently found to be uploading the names, email addresses and phone numbers of users' address books to its servers without asking for permission. Schumer also mentioned a separate Times report that indicated that the platforms contain a loophole that allows applications to access a user's private photo collection.

"It sends shivers up the spine to think that one’s personal photos, address book, and who-knows-what-else can be obtained and even posted online – without consent," Schumer noted. "If the technology exists to open the door to this kind of privacy invasion, then surely technology exists to close it, and that’s exactly what must happen."

Schumer said that these types of applications clearly violate each company's security policy, yet they were allowed to remain on the platforms until reports surfaced and the app makers voluntarily ended the practice. "Questions remain, however, over the implementation of security policies employed by smartphone manufacturers and their oversight of applications sold on their platforms," he said.

The New York senator told the Times late Monday night that Apple and Google have agreed to sit down and talk about ways of preventing the unauthorized use of personal data, and that each company was friendly and open to the idea of changing their enforcement over such apps.

If they don't make changes, Schumer said, lawmakers will look to the FTC to enforce a legislative approach.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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