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Apple, Google to testify at Congressional hearing on location tracking

Senator Al Franken released a statement today thanking Apple and Google for agreeing to attend a hearing on mobile technology and privacy. According to Franken, the goal of the hearing is to "serve as a first step in investigating if federal law protecting consumer privacy-particularly when it relates to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets-is keeping pace with advances in technology."

The hearing is set for May 10 in Washington, D.C. and has the catchy title "Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy." We'll keep you posted on the result of that hearing and we'll reach out to Sen. Franken for comment after they conclude. Full press release below.

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Sen. Franken Thanks Google, Apple for Agreeing to Appear at Hearing on Mobile Technology & Privacy
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, thanked Apple and Google for agreeing to send representatives to testify at the May 10th hearing on mobile technology and privacy. They will be joining officials from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission; Ashkan Soltani, independent privacy researcher and consultant; and Justin Brookman, Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology's Project on Consumer Privacy.

"I'm pleased that Apple and Google have confirmed that they'll be sending representatives to testify at my upcoming hearing on mobile technology and privacy," said Sen. Franken. "This hearing will serve as a first step in investigating if federal law protecting consumer privacy-particularly when it relates to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets-is keeping pace with advances in technology. Each of the witnesses at the hearing will play a critical role in helping us better understand this complex issue and I look forward to hearing from them."

Sen. Franken's hearing, called "Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy," is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10th at 10:00 a.m. in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Protecting Minnesotans' and Americans' consumer rights and privacy has been a priority for Sen. Franken since he came to the Senate. Last week, he sent a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking him to address privacy concerns about the company's iOS 4 operating system, which security researchers have said secretly stores detailed information about users' locations on their iPhones, iPads, and any computers to which the devices are synched, generally in an unencrypted format. Since then, Apple, Inc. has announced that it will update its iOS 4 operating system to address several of the issues raised in Sen. Franken's letter.

Last year, Sen. Franken pressed Attorney General Holder to incorporate an analysis of geotags-information about a person's location that is embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones-into an updated stalking victimization study connected to the National Crime Victimization Survey. This March, Sen. Franken also led several of his Senate colleagues in urging Facebook to stop plans that would have permitted third party application providers to access users' home addresses and phone numbers. Earlier this month, he asked the U.S. Department of Justice to clarify its interpretation of a critical federal law that protects personal data after a security breach at Epsilon Data Management and allegations that several popular smartphone applications were gathering and disclosing users' private information without their knowledge or consent.


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Senator Al Franken released a statement today thanking Apple and Google for agreeing to attend a hearing on mobile technology and...