iPads, iPhones… Congress Asks – Who Else Is Tracking Users?

Nearly all modern mobile devices can be tracked via GPS. When the latest versions of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system proved it might track and store the location and movements of its users via its OS software, as we reported here,  lawmakers in congress took note.

The concern, they say, is with privacy. According to Senator Al Franken, chairman of the subcommittee, the location technology in these devices gather sensitive information about users, including their location and daily movements.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee say they are concerned about how location tracking will affect the privacy of mobile device users. The committee sent letters to each of major developers of mobile device operating systems requesting information about the location data used in tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.

On Monday, the committee sent letters to Apple, Inc. requesting information as to the storage and use of the data collected. The letter comes on the heels of recent reports that show information concerning the location of users of iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users is stored in the devices and in backup files that are created during iTunes syncing.

Letters were also sent to Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard, and Research in Motion Limited requesting information on what data is being stored on the devices, the length of time it is stored, why, and whether users are even aware of the tracking or have the option to opt out of it. The committee is looking at the possibility of applying current communications privacy laws to mobile devices as well.

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