Apple Inc. and Google Inc. should provide customers with “clear and understandable privacy policies” for mobile applications, a U.S. lawmaker said.
Franken held a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing May 10 on privacy issues around location data collected from smartphones and other mobile devices. Executives with Apple and Google defended their handling of user location data at the hearing and said they do not track individual smartphone customers.
Franken said that “at a minimum” Apple and Google should require “location-aware” apps to have privacy policies spelling out what location information is collected, how it is used, and how it is shared with third parties.
Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment beyond the company’s earlier statements to lawmakers. Brian Richardson, a spokesman for Google, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Focus on Applications
U.S. lawmakers are focusing on mobile privacy after researchers found that the operating system of Apple’s iPhones and iPads logs users’ locations. Companies including Apple and Google, whose Android software powers smartphones from leading handset makers, use location data from mobile devices to deliver targeted advertising and help consumers find nearby businesses.
Lawmakers have recently highlighted the lack of regulation for mobile applications, often made by outside software developers, that run on smartphones and other wireless devices. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, said mobile apps “have to be regulated” at a May 19 hearing.
Revenue from applications in the U.S. and Canada is expected to grow to $11.8 billion in 2015 from $3.8 billion in 2011, according to the Yankee Group, a Boston-based technology research firm.