Senator seeks US probe of smartphone privacy

March 5, 2012
Senator Charles Schumer, pictured in February, called for a government probe into whether smartphone applications used on the Apple and Android platforms can steal private data including photos and address books.

A leading US senator called Monday for a government probe into whether smartphone applications used on the Apple and Android platforms can steal private data including photos and address books.

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, urged the to launch an investigation, following reports that applications on the mobile devices can access and steal without the consent of users.

"When someone takes a private photo, on a private cell phone, it should remain just that: private," Schumer said in a statement as he released a letter to the FTC expressing concern over "a disturbing and potentially unfair practice in the smartphone application market."

"Smartphone developers have an obligation to protect the private content of their users and not allow them to be veritable treasure troves of private, personal information that can then be uploaded and distributed without the consumer's consent."

Schumer's call came after a New York Times report said that and Android applications downloaded by users can gain access to a customer's private photo collection, and in some cases share the information online.

This report comes on the heels of a discovery that applications on Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad were able to upload entire address books with names, phone numbers, and email address to their own servers, Schumer's statement said.

"It sends shivers up the spine to think that one's personal photos, address book, and who-knows-what-else can be obtained and even posted online -- without consent," the senator said.

"If the technology exists to open the door to this kind of privacy invasion, then surely technology exists to close it, and that's exactly what must happen."

The latest outcry comes less than a week after rolled out a new privacy policy allowing the firm to track users across various services to develop targeted advertising, despite sharp criticism from US and European consumer advocacy groups.

Google said its privacy approach had not changed but that the new effort unifies its policy across various services such as search, email, and mobile devices powered by its software.

Explore further: Apple, Google defend privacy practices to Congress

Related Stories

Apple, Google to attend hearing on mobile privacy

May 16, 2011

US lawmakers have invited Apple, Facebook and Google to attend a hearing on mobile phones and privacy on Thursday -- the second Capitol Hill appearance in a week for executives from Apple and Google.

Senator calls for smartphone app privacy policies

May 25, 2011

(AP) -- A key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is challenging Apple Inc. and Google Inc. to require all developers that make apps for their mobile devices to adopt formal privacy policies.

Google defends privacy plan to US lawmakers

January 31, 2012

Google, facing pressure from US lawmakers over a new privacy policy, said Tuesday it remains committed to protecting consumer data as it creates a "seamless and easy" Web experience.

Recommended for you

Not another new phone! But Nextbit's Robin is smarter

September 2, 2015

San Francisco-based Nextbit wants you to meet Robin, which they consider as the smarter smartphone. Their premise is that no one is making a smart smartphone; when you get so big it's hard to see the forest through the trees. ...

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Wolf358
not rated yet Mar 06, 2012
As an American citizen, it's my duty to save the Gummint some money; no need for hearings.

Senator, the answer is YES; they can see everything; and NO, there's no way to stop it.

Any other questions? :-)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.