Mobile Phone Privacy
The mobile phones we use every day have a lot of information about us. They know where we are, who our friends are and how to reach them, and they have all the information we enter into applications, such as our age, gender, interests, and shopping habits. Our phones and apps may need this information to provide us useful services like driving directions or health trackers, but it can easily be misused. Senator Franken wants to make sure that consumers know what information is being collected from their phone, how it is being used, and who it is being shared with.
In April and May 2011, media and research reports revealed that Apple iPhones were inadvertently storing users' location data and uploading it to any computer where they synced their device. It was also sending the location data to Apple even when users had elected to turn location data off. In December of last year, a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that 47 out of 101 top apps for iPhones and Google Android devices transmitted their users' location to third parties without their consent.
In his first hearing of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, Senator Franken brought representatives from these two companies to Capitol Hill to answer for their companies' conduct. He also called witnesses from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to explain the real-life consequences of breaches in smartphone privacy. According to the Department of Justice, at least 26,000 persons are victims of GPS tracking, including by cellphone.
To see Senator Franken's opening statement from the hearing, click here.