Senator seeks US probe of smartphone privacy

Mar 05, 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: US closes probe into Camry Hybrid brake problems

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Jan 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

Overly polite drivers, not roadworks, cause traffic jams

Aug 25, 2014

British motorists who are too polite or timid in their driving style are the cause of lengthy traffic jams across the UK, particularly when faced with roadworks or lane closures, according to a leading Heriot-Watt ...

Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

Aug 21, 2014

Police and intelligence services are using image analysis and voice-recognition software, studying social media postings and seeking human tips as they scramble to identify the militant recorded on a video ...

Smartphone-loss anxiety disorder

Aug 21, 2014

The smart phone has changed our behavior, sometimes for the better as we are now able to connect and engage with many more people than ever before, sometimes for the worse in that we may have become over-reliant on the connectivity ...

Why conspiracy theorists won't give up on MH17 and MH370

Aug 20, 2014

A huge criminal investigation is underway in the Netherlands, following the downing of flight MH17. Ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 policemen are involved in collecting evidence to present at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The inv ...

Here's how you find out who shot down MH17

Aug 20, 2014

More than a month has passed since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed with the loss of all 298 lives on board. But despite the disturbances at the crash site near the small town of Grabovo, near Donetsk ...

User comments : 1

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? :-)