In the letter addressed to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Larry Page, Franken writes that such a requirement “would not resolve most of the privacy concerns in the mobile market.
“But it would be a simple first step that would provide users, privacy advocates, and federal consumer protection authorities a minimum of information about what information an app will access and how that app will share the information with third parties.
Noting that Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Marketplace are by far the two largest online app distribution outlets in the world, Franken contended that the two companies were “in a unique position to influence the market for apps and protect users’ privacy within the market.”
At a minimum, Franken asked that Apple and Google require privacy policies for apps that use location tracking, technology that came under fire from privacy advocates when researchers publicized the existence of an unencrypted file storing location data on Apple’s iPhones.
“Although I believe there is a greater need for transparency and disclosure for the collection and sharing of all personal information, at a minimum, I ask that you require all location-aware applications in your app stores to provide privacy policies that clearly specify what kind of location information is gathered from users, how that information is used, and how it is shared with third parties,” the first-term Senator wrote.
Franken last month penned a letter to Apple alone that asked about location tracking on devices running Apple’s iOS 4 mobile operating system.
Apple in early May issued an update to iOS 4 that fixed what it called a “bug” that was not allowing iPhone users to turn off location tracking, while also reducing the size of the cache storing location data and eliminating back-up of the cache on iTunes when users synced their iPhones.
Franken may not have endeared himself to Apple by referring to its competitor Google’s Android Marketplace as an “app store.” Apple is touchy about the name, last week stating in a court filing that it “denies that, based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps.”
Meanwhile, a reference in the letter to a story by PCMag’s Mark Hachman wrongly attributed the article to PCWorld.
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