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Senator Franken calls for Apple, Google app privacy policies

updated 05:25 pm EDT, Wed May 25, 2011

Apple and Google told app privacy must be clear

Minnesota Senator Al Franken in a letter to Apple and Google following last week's Senate hearings asked both of them to establish clear app privacy policies. Those who bought from the App Store or Android Market would be given an explanation of what information the apps wanted and who was getting the data. The non-binding request would give a "clearer understanding" of what was happening and avoid instances of apps getting more than they needed.

The former comedian was careful not to raise the possibility of the request becoming a proposed law. He nonetheless suggested it might end some of the debates over the subject.

"Apple and Google have each said time and again that they are committed to protecting users' privacy," Franken said. "This is an easy opportunity for your companies to put that commitment into action."

Both companies provide a level of information about an app and let users control how much of their information gets out, though they don't necessarily show a complete picture or provide information up front. iOS apps, for example, prompt users the first time an app requests the user's location but aren't required to explain in advance that it's a feature or to say what else might be leaving the device. Android Market will show that an app needs access to contacts, messages, or other features, but developers aren't pushed to explain what parts of that information are used or where it will go.

Most of the immediate concerns over privacy have focused on location. Some Android apps, however, have raised concerns that customers aren't being told of the reasons behind data requests. Screensaver apps have requested contact information for relatively innocuous purposes while others have taken data for scam purposes. Such instances aren't impossible in the App Store but are less likely given inherent limits on what iOS apps are allowed to do.

Neither Apple nor Google had given a public response to Franken's letter as of late Wednesday. [via The Loop]

By Electronista Staff


  1. chas_m




    How dare a politician be concerned about our privacy and our data! The nerve of that guy!!

    Politicians aren't supposed to hold corporations to account ... they're supposed to take money from them and kiss their hindquarters!!

    I demand Sen. Franken stop looking out for my interests and instead join the war against seniors and the poor, currently led by the Republicans! At least THEY have their priorities in order!! Sheesh!

  1. redcapzero

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007



    Although your sentiments along w/ Sen. Frankens "ways & means" are sincerely respected (truth)...

    yet you forgot one important fact: Demo's are simply Repubs in drag: who ever holds the power...unfortunate.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2002



    The buck-toothed moron doesn't know what he's talking about...but it makes for good press I guess.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: @yes

    yet you forgot one important fact: Demo's are simply Repubs in drag: who ever holds the power...unfortunate.

    And here I thought that repubs were simply demo's in drag. I guess it don't matter. Someone's dressing up. I think the only difference is that Dems do it in public, while repubs do it in private while publicly blasting it as being immoral, then getting caught and having to resign in disgrace.

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