Apple to US Senate: We have no plans to ever track users' locations

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
At the company's second U.S. Senate hearing in weeks, Apple told senators that it does not, has never and has no plans to ever track users' locations.



Apple Vice President of Global Affairs Catherine Novelli testified before the Senate Consumer Protection, Safety and Insurance subcommittee on Thursday, along with representatives from Google and Facebook, MacNN reports. Titled "Consumer Privacy and Protection in the Mobile Marketplace," the hearing came on the heels of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing that took place last week.



Apple largely held to its stance from the prior hearing. "Apple does not track users' locations -- Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," Novelli said.



Senators have turned their attention to the issue of mobile privacy recently partly in response to a report from security researchers last month that claimed Apple was pervasively tracking users' locations in a database file in iOS 4. Apple issued a statement denying the claims, asserting instead that the database was a crowd-sourced collection of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers used to help the iPhone's location services operate more quickly and accurately.



At Thursday's hearing, Google maintained its position that the open nature of Google Android requires in a hands-off approach to third-party applications.



"Google does not and cannot control the behavior of third-party applications, or how they handle location information and other user information that the third-party application obtains from the device," said Google's director of public policy for the Americas, Alan Davidson. "Google does strongly encourage application developers to use best practices," which include providing a set privacy policy, avoiding logging, and presenting options for data control.



Senators voiced their concerns at the hearing, raising the question whether geotracking can ever be legitimate. "I think anyone who uses a mobile device has an expectation of privacy, and sadly that expectation is not always being met," Sen. John Rockefeller IV said during the hearing. Rockefeller also expressed his dissatisfaction with "totally unregulated" state of the app market. The possibility of a "do not track" list was also raised during the discussion.
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Comments

  • irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,403member
    So Apple will not track you, and police apps so that they cant use your tracking info without your permission. Google leave it open to devs to not track you by 'stongly suggesting' that they don't.



    Google will have to re-think this attitude by the end of these hearings.



    Apple should pass the details of offending app creators to the FBI for federal investigation. Maybe then they will find out why they are stealing user info.



    Googles fanciful tales of Android being open have been recently debunked by evidence released in the skyhook trial which demonstrates Googles total control of the platform.



    A wise man once said nothing in life is free.



    You are foolish to believe otherwise.
  • firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,499member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    So Apple will not track you, and police apps so that they cant use your tracking info without your permission. Google leave it open to devs to not track you by 'stongly suggesting' that they don't.



    Google will have to re-think this attitude by the end of these hearings.



    I have a feeling there is more to it than this one paragraph wrap up.



    Poor magicj is going to have an aneurysm.
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    I have a feeling there is more to it than this one paragraph warp up.



    Poor magicj is going to have an aneurysm.



    He's been repeatedly saying AppleInsider has not been covering this 2nd hearing (and a possible conspiracy not to) so, expect him on this thread in 3.. 2.. 1..



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    So Apple will not track you, and police apps so that they cant use your tracking info without your permission. Google leave it open to devs to not track you by 'stongly suggesting' that they don't.



    Google will have to re-think this attitude by the end of these hearings.



    Apple: "We're not going to track users"

    Google: "We're open, so we don't give a shit"
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by justinnorth View Post


    Every company provides the option to opt out of sharing the user data or behaviour targeting. Google or Apple are no exceptions, no company in the world can track you without your permission. But chances are there that you may have permitted the company to track as most of us never bother to read the privacy policy in details and just click I accept.



    The best part is, Google is saying it doesn't know or care what apps track you once you give the app permission in that fabulous "Allow or Deny" Android screen.



  • jmmxjmmx Posts: 340member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    So Apple will not track you, and [they will] police apps so that they cant use your tracking info without your permission. Google leave it open to devs to not track you by 'stongly suggesting' that they don't.



    Google will have to re-think this attitude by the end of these hearings.



    I would not give too much credence to the "[Apple will] police apps?" There is only so much they can do . They had various rules in place, but still there was that issue that Pandora and others took access to a lot of data, a lot of which was not necessary.



    What ever became of that issue?
  • pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    The best part is, Google is saying it doesn't know or care what apps track you once you give the app permission in that fabulous "Allow or Deny" Android screen.







    Aaaaaagh !



    Is that a single 'Allow' for all of that or is that many Allows ?
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PXT View Post


    Aaaaaagh !



    Is that a single 'Allow' for all of that or is that many Allows ?



    A single allow. If you want to use an app, if the app requires whatever permissions it wants, you either Allow or Deny the whole list. AFAIK.
  • magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Senators voiced their concerns at the hearing, raising the question whether geotracking can ever be legitimate. "I think anyone who uses a mobile device has an expectation of privacy, and sadly that expectation is not always being met," Sen. John Rockefeller IV said during the hearing. Rockefeller also expressed his dissatisfaction with "totally unregulated" state of the app market. The possibility of a "do not track" list was also raised during the discussion.



    Thank you, AI, for posting this article. Now if we can only get Apple to post it's policy regarding data theft...



    The entire hearing is available here: http://www.c-span.org/Events/Congres...y/10737421634/
  • djsherlydjsherly Posts: 873member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PXT View Post


    Aaaaaagh !



    Is that a single 'Allow' for all of that or is that many Allows ?



    Your Location: iOS also asks for permission (at the time)

    Contact Data: I've never used an app which pulls in contact data; does iOS ask?

    Network Communication: iOS does not ask

    You accounts: don't even know what this means

    Storage: iOS does not ask (but the app is sandboxed - is this the case for Android?)

    Read Phone state: iOS does not ask.

    System Tools: iOS does not ask.



    It would seem to me that android is telling you exactly what the app is going to do. Arguably, I think some permission are irrelevant, such as Network communication, but really, what is the beef here?
  • magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    Contact Data: I've never used an app which pulls in contact data; does iOS ask?



    No, it doesn't. So any app can steal your contact data without you ever knowing. This is against Apple policy, but there are no technical safeguards in place to enforce that policy. Instead Apple relies on random audits or an App being reported by users.



    As far as I know the penalty for getting caught stealing a user's contact data is Apple requires the App to stop doing it within 24 hours. No other action is taken. Importantly, the user is never informed their data was stolen.



    This is what I can gather from Apple's statements to Congress on the matter. But there is no published policy that I know of where Apple details exactly how it handles data theft.
  • headrush69headrush69 Posts: 45member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "I think anyone who uses a mobile device has an expectation of privacy, and sadly that expectation is not always being met," Sen. John Rockefeller IV said during the hearing.



    Really, I always assumed the opposite.



    So you mean those movies are all make believe and the FBI isn't listening to any of my cel calls?

    We know strangers around us don't listen to conversations either.
  • magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Thank you, AI, for posting this article. Now if we can only get Apple to post it's policy regarding data theft...



    The entire hearing is available here: http://www.c-span.org/Events/Congres...y/10737421634/



    BTW, I should probably mention a few highlights from the hearing not covered by the AI article:



    ● Rockefeller chews out the FTC for not producing requested privacy regs in a timely manner.

    ● Apple mocks Facebook's approach to privacy, quoting Facebook as sayng "we'll figure things out as we go along".

    ● Google suggests additional legislation is needed to properly handle data breaches.

    ● Rockefeller tells Apple, Google, and Facebook that more hearings are coming in the future.



    You can also turn the hearings into a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says "kids".
  • genovellegenovelle Posts: 650member
    The interesting part is in two Senate meetings Google never answered the question about whether they tracked users. Their answer was the same in both. It deflected it by referring only to 3rd party apps and the openness of Andriod
  • magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post


    The interesting part is in two Senate meetings Google never answered the question about whether they tracked users. Their answer was the same in both. It deflected it by referring only to 3rd party apps and the openness of Andriod



    No, they answered it in both hearings. They even had one of those big charts made up. It showed Google's opt-in/opt-out screen. They also suggested their method could be used as an industry standard.
  • matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post






    If every time I install the app I have to read that I'd kill myself.
  • magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Just a few final thoughts on the hearing, then I'll let it go...



    ● Part of the reason for the hearing is a turf war going on between the Commerce Committee (Rockefeller's hearing) and the Judicial Committee (Franken's hearing). They both want a piece of the privacy pie.



    ● Franken's hearing seemed much more informed to me. I think this is one reason why Rockefeller's hearing made such overuse of the word "kids". (To be fair, Rockefeller is also proposing the "Do Not Track Kids" bill).



    ● It's still not clear to me that any of the legislation being produced by these hearings (and there's actually a lot of bills floating around now) will actually get passed. Time will tell.



    ● The data breach issue seems to me to be the most important issue floating around right now, and the one most likely to get passed, as it involves security as well as privacy. Plus it apparently has support from Google.



    ● If companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Sony formed a privacy standards group, it could take a lot of heat off of them coming from both the federal and the state levels. Assuming, of course, that they actually produced and implemented privacy standards in a timely manner.



    ● Having unified standards would also do a lot to help consumers understand how their data is being collected, shared, and protected.
  • pxtpxt Posts: 683member
    Apple to US Senate: We have no plans to ever track users' locations, DO YOU?
  • sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,189member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PXT View Post


    Apple to US Senate: We have no plans to ever track users' locations, DO YOU?



    Yeah, really. That's what they should have said. What really gets me here is the questions and statements presented by these completely uninformed politicians.



    Quote:

    "I think anyone who uses a mobile device has an expectation of privacy, and sadly that expectation is not always being met," Sen. John Rockefeller IV said during the hearing. Rockefeller also expressed his dissatisfaction with "totally unregulated" state of the app market.



    1. Then you're an idiot, sir, because no one should have any real expectation of privacy on a mobile device. Should Apple be tracking and logging your location? No. But it's not doing that.



    2. The last bolded part really shows the disease that our government has. They need to have their hands in EVERYTHING. One of the reasons the "app" model is so successful is that the government had nothing to do with it. Can you imagine if the government sponsored smartphones? They'd cost $5,000 and have between 3 and 9 apps. Like Windows phone.
  • magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post


    Can you imagine if the government sponsored smartphones? They'd cost $5,000 and have between 3 and 9 apps. Like Windows phone.



    And they'd have declared it a huge success for creating dozens of jobs.



    But it's now reached the point where if the industry can't show it can police itself, the government will do it for them. Sony's negligence at protecting the private data on their PSN network, for example, has caused real harm to consumers.
  • d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    No, it doesn't. So any app can steal your contact data without you ever knowing. This is against Apple policy, but there are no technical safeguards in place to enforce that policy. Instead Apple relies on random audits or an App being reported by users.



    It's not a random audit, an API scan is performed on every application, and if any address book API's show up Apple will not approve the application before the developer clarifies why the application needs address book access.



    Quote:

    As far as I know the penalty for getting caught stealing a user's contact data is Apple requires the App to stop doing it within 24 hours. No other action is taken. Importantly, the user is never informed their data was stolen.



    What would you expect Apple to do, and how do you even think Apple would technically be able to 'inform users their data was stolen'. Also, I still don't get WTF you are doing here railing against Apple, while in reality, Android has much bigger privacy issues. Just because an application shows a list of weird privileges you have to allow/deny doesn't mean the user actually knows what the application will do with these privileges. Any application masking itself as a legit address book tool can upload everything it finds on your phone without the user knowing. That's supposing the user actually even reads and understands that screen. Maybe legally speaking it's enough to get Google off the hook but in terms of privacy protection it's a dud, no less than the privacy policies on iOS. Last but not least it has been shown multiple times that Android applications can get around the privilege query using exploits, which has happened on multiple occasions. What 'action' did Google take? Why are you not complaining on any Android blogs about the fact that probably a million times the amount of private data is sent from Android devices (it's Googles friggin business model) than from iOS ones?



    Stop trolling this forum under the pretence you care about privacy, the only thing you care about is spamming this board with negative drivel about Apple's privacy policies, often with incorrect, one-sided or incomplete 'facts'.



    Quote:

    This is what I can gather from Apple's statements to Congress on the matter. But there is no published policy that I know of where Apple details exactly how it handles data theft.



    Ah I was already wondering when the millionth reference to the 'Congresss Hearings' you seem to be inexplicably interested in would drop.



    Why didn't you answer my direct question the last time: are you in any way affiliated with/working for/are enjoying benefits from any of the parties involved with this legal circus?



    Before you give an honest answer to this question, we can all safely conclude you are some kind of shill, with a mission to spew negative BS about Apple here.
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