updated 01:10 am EST, Mon March 5, 2012
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Senator Chuck Schumer on Sunday sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission with concerns over the reaches of Android and iOS apps. He was worried that their abilities to quietly take contact lists and photo libraries without direct knowledge were going "well beyond" what a regular user would agree to. Although he agreed that these were often breaching Apple and Google terms, he was concerned the companies weren't properly monitoring what was happening.
"Smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user's personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public," Schumer said.
Calls from US senators for investigations into practices surrounding mobile apps have grown increasingly common, touching on Carrier IQ's performance tracking and location privacy issues, among others. Usually, however, these are more reflections of a public show of interest in reaction to a high-profile news story and don't often lead to direct action.
Apple is known to be working on updates that will prevent contact and photo access. Android's access is partly deliberate in order to allow using SD cards as well as device-to-device sharing of app content. Google may face the most to lose from an FTC investigation, since it has no clear signs of changing its policies and is already under investigation for alleged abuse of dominance. [via Reuters]