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Bill introduced in US Senate to enforce mobile privacy laws on Apple, Google

post #1 of 55
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U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies like Apple, as well as application developers for platforms like iOS, to receive express consent from users before collecting or sharing location information.

Franken (D-Minn.) and Blumenthal (D-Conn.) singled out both Apple and Google in a press release sent out Wednesday to announce the new legislation. The bill, called the "Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011," aims to close what the senators view as loopholes in current federal law.

The proposed law would cover both device manufacturers and application developers, and would apply to both smartphones and tablets. The senators said that the new law would ensure consumers know what location information is collected about them, and would allow users to decide if they want the information to be shared.

"Our laws do too little to protect information on our mobile devices, Franken said in a statement. "Geolocation technology gives us incredible benefits, but the same information that allows emergency responders to locate us when we're in trouble is not necessarily information all of us want to share with the rest of the world.

"This legislation would give people the right to know what geolocation data is being collected about them and ensure they give their consent before it's shared with others."

Franken, who is chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, held a hearing in May that was attended by representatives of both Apple and Google. At that hearing, Apple's vice president of software technology, Bud Tribble, said that Apple does not track users' locations, and does not personally share identifiable information with third parties for marketing purposes without a user's consent.



He also restated what Apple revealed in April: that Apple collects information about the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers to expedite identification of a user's location. This information is anonymously collected with the sole purpose of improving Apple's services.

A file labeled "consolidated.db" gained significant attention when a pair of security researchers discovered that it contained an extensive database of location coordinates in an unsecured file. Apple quickly addressed the issue with an iOS software update.

"This legislation is a strong step toward ensuring that consumers' geolocation information is protected from being collected and stored without their consent," Blumenthaln said in a statement. "As smartphone technology continues to advance, it is vitally important that we keep pace with new developments to make sure consumer data is secure from being shared or sold without proper notification to consumers."

The new bill is supported by the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Center for Victims of Crime, National Consumers League, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Womens Law Center, and the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.
post #2 of 55
I'm sorry but I just can't take anything Al Franken says seriously. He really should have just stuck with comedy.
post #3 of 55
Can't wait for the South Park about this! Hunger is OK, but getting caught cheating not OK.
post #4 of 55
I wish these clowns would do the same with the banking industry, handing my info to every 3rd-party known to man.

But then, I guess Apple and Google do not bribe enough congressmen like the banks do.
post #5 of 55
Ironic, especially since its coming from big brother.

Privacy does NOT exist.
post #6 of 55
Don't we have bigger issue to deal with in this country? This is utter waste of tax payers money. Here are two companies who are innovative, but leave it up to the government to muck it up! Al, go back to SNL - they might need you!
post #7 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies like Apple, as well as application developers for platforms like iOS, to receive express consent from users before collecting or sharing location information.

OK, so now the EULA will have an extra sentence in it. "By using your iPad you grant Apple and all Apple's business partners the right to collect your information and do whatever we want with it. "
post #8 of 55
Go figure - and with the tacit support of groups that, while advocating high profile and emotionally charged victim groups, would love nothing better than to be all up in our private stuff if they could.

Yet another poorly written piece of legislation to give Franken and Blumenthal air time and political cred. Note that the bill is not bipartisan, and most of the supporting orgs are fully enfranchised in the DFL side of the house. These guy need to stop playing politics and start doing some serious bipartisan work. I suppose now we'll get a couple of GOP challengers who will waste our money trying to shoot this down or field a counter bill to emasculate this one.

Seriously, is anyone else tired of the political polarization and shenanigans?
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post #9 of 55
Can anyone clarify on whether this would require more of Apple than they've already added to the OS? Namely, the triangle/arrow indicator in the status bar and the alert that users can allow/deny access to location?

It sounds like they're just codifying what's already been put in place. thoughts?
post #10 of 55
I would not say that a bill isn't necessary for a variety of reasons but there's a distinct and total difference between Apple and Google on this.

Apple's iOS-where-are-you-Gate was a bug, nothing more. It's a scary world when Apple is the only phone/device maker who seems to take privacy more seriously than others.
post #11 of 55
I am very surprised at the objections so far to this proposal. Google's ad-serving relies in part on tracking the user's location. It is just another breach of policy by the company that's not "evil." The use of that information needs to be regulated. If Apple (or more likely, iOS developers) isn't doing anything shady, they have nothing to worry about.

"Q: Steve,
Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It's kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don't track me.
A: Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false.
Sent from my iPhone"
post #12 of 55
post #13 of 55
Apparently they haven't read the Patriot Act, which requires mobile device location tracking.
post #14 of 55
Yeah, I want congress making laws on Mobile Devices......Too bad it wouldn't have kept that Weiner guy from posting his junk all over Twitter?

The longer we go with this Debt ceiling uncertainty, the longer it will be before people start hiring again...BTW, cuts in the budget also means job losses not just for the public sector....
post #15 of 55
Richard Blumenthal is an a'hole of the highest order. He has more than once here in Connecticut gone after Apple when some moronic voter cries to him when their iPods battery dies too early, or their dog chews it up and they tell him it should have been able to take it. So he sues. He'll go after anybody he can. He has NEVER seen a camera he didn't like, or a microphone he was afraid of.
post #16 of 55
It seems a bit odd that everyone's all up in arms over Apple supposedly tracking users, but Google admitting they track users isn't causing a problem. Seems everyone wants a bite of Apple.
post #17 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require companies like Apple, as well as application developers for platforms like iOS, to receive express consent from users before collecting or sharing location information. ...

Since this would basically destroy Google's reason for existence, I don't see this ever happening.
post #18 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by wealthychef View Post

OK, so now the EULA will have an extra sentence in it. "By using your iPad you grant Apple and all Apple's business partners the right to collect your information and do whatever we want with it. "

Apple doesn't collect your info without your consent idiot.

This legislation is aimed straight at Google which *does* collect your info without your consent on almost every product they make and they *do* sell it or give it to third parties as well.
post #19 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This legislation is aimed straight at Google which *does* collect your info without your consent on almost every product they make and they *do* sell it or give it to third parties as well.

When loading this very page, 3 things are blocked from within Safari: Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and Tribal Fusion. Almost every single webpage that I visit on the web has some sort of Google analytics which I block. What are they trying to do, track my every movement on the web?
post #20 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

BTW, cuts in the budget also means job losses not just for the public sector....

Truth. Just look at the job losses from defense contractors because of defense budget cuts. And Ron Paul wants to cut that budget way, way more than anyone else has called for.
post #21 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

When loading this very page, 3 things are blocked from within Safari: Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and Tribal Fusion. Almost every single webpage that I visit on the web has some sort of Google analytics which I block. What are they trying to do, track my every movement on the web?

Try Ghostery.
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
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post #22 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

When loading this very page, 3 things are blocked from within Safari: Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and Tribal Fusion. Almost every single webpage that I visit on the web has some sort of Google analytics which I block. What are they trying to do, track my every movement on the web?

More or less. But some of this is just used by web page developers to see if the design of their web site works, or whether people use certain parts of a web site. For instance, if they see that a certain part of their website is not used, they may get rid of it, redesign it, or move that part of the website up a click. Most of the data is probably summarized anyways, when third parties see it, so they don't even know who the exact users are. Most users of the data don't really care about YOU specifically, they care about the trend in the data. They care about what a group of people are doing. Basically the same way census data is used, and noone sees the raw data.

But I'm not sure that's the only way it's used.
post #23 of 55
Typical bureaucrats -- think the nanny state is the only way to solve problems.

Just watch all the unintended consequences. Enough is enough government involvement in EVERYTHING!

Watch Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch show on Fox Business if you want a breath of fresh air! Or watch it here nightly!:

http://usaguns.net/patriots/fw10.php
post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Try Ghostery.

I do use Ghostery and adblock also. That's how I was able to block those things.
post #25 of 55
Conversation at the Genius Bar.

Customer: This crappy iPhone can't tell me where the restaurants are in my neighborhood!

Genius: Do you have locations services turned on?

Customer: Hell no I don't! I value my privacy and I don't want anybody to know where I'm at with my iPhone. You can't make me turn it on. It's the law!!!!

Genius: Well without the iPhone knowing where you are it can't really tell you where the restaurants are.

Customer: Crappy iPhone. I paid good money for this useless thing. I'm switching to Android.

Genius: Have a nice day. Come back and see us real soon.
post #26 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Typical bureaucrats -- think the nanny state is the only way to solve problems.

Just watch all the unintended consequences. Enough is enough government involvement in EVERYTHING!

Watch Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch show on Fox Business if you want a breath of fresh air! Or watch it here nightly!:

http://usaguns.net/patriots/fw10.php


Its funny how often the right conflates freedom for corporations with freedom for people.
post #27 of 55
Al Franken is still an idiot.
post #28 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by wealthychef View Post

OK, so now the EULA will have an extra sentence in it. "By using your iPad you grant Apple and all Apple's business partners the right to collect your information and do whatever we want with it. "

Absolutely, if you want to make any use out of your expensive device. If it doesn't know where it is half of its features are useless.

And by the way what would "your information" be besides which cell tower you walked by recently? That's what location service is anyway.
post #29 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Typical bureaucrats -- think the nanny state is the only way to solve problems.

Just watch all the unintended consequences. Enough is enough government involvement in EVERYTHING!

Watch Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch show on Fox Business if you want a breath of fresh air! Or watch it here nightly!:

http://usaguns.net/patriots/fw10.php

Okay Andrew, this isn't your board. Please stop posting commercials for your lame ass show and get back to talking shit at a camera. Your six viewers are gonna miss you.
post #30 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Conversation at the Genius Bar.

Customer: This crappy iPhone can't tell me where the restaurants are in my neighborhood!

Genius: Do you have locations services turned on?

Customer: Hell no I don't! I value my privacy and I don't want anybody to know where I'm at with my iPhone. You can't make me turn it on. It's the law!!!!

Genius: Well without the iPhone knowing where you are it can't really tell you where the restaurants are.

Customer: Crappy iPhone. I paid good money for this useless thing. I'm switching to Android.

Genius: Have a nice day. Come back and see us real soon.


I can see that as a Joy of Tech cartoon!
post #31 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by wealthychef View Post

OK, so now the EULA will have an extra sentence in it. "By using your iPad you grant Apple and all Apple's business partners the right to collect your information and do whatever we want with it. "

Not true - it would have to be a totally separate approval.
post #32 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Conversation at the Genius Bar.

Customer: This crappy iPhone can't tell me where the restaurants are in my neighborhood!

Genius: Do you have locations services turned on?

Customer: Hell no I don't! I value my privacy and I don't want anybody to know where I'm at with my iPhone. You can't make me turn it on. It's the law!!!!

Genius: Well without the iPhone knowing where you are it can't really tell you where the restaurants are.

Customer: Crappy iPhone. I paid good money for this useless thing. I'm switching to Android.

Genius: Have a nice day. Come back and see us real soon.

Found this:

http://www.cultofmac.com/google-can-...iongate/100953

I wonder why location services need to store UUIDs, Mac-addresses and being able to link them with other personal data.
Yes I want to use location services, but I don't want to be tracked in this way.
post #33 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Apple doesn't collect your info without your consent idiot.

This legislation is aimed straight at Google which *does* collect your info without your consent on almost every product they make and they *do* sell it or give it to third parties as well.

I've never seen an offer from Google to sell identifiable user information. They do use specific user stats to deliver targeted advertisements and offers. But unless you have some evidence they sell packages of personal identification information to 3rd parties, I'd have to say I believe you're mistaken.
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post #34 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Absolutely, if you want to make any use out of your expensive device. If it doesn't know where it is half of its features are useless.

And by the way what would "your information" be besides which cell tower you walked by recently? That's what location service is anyway.

E911 location service is at minimum cell tower triangulation, but on iPhones, Location Services is mostly through the Global Positioning System satellites, with some data through the cellular data channel to speed up the process.

I'm not sure why it's necessary to store a history of positions though. There aren't any apps that I use where it benefits from any more of a history than two data points (one for current position, second, previously known position to derive direction of motion).
post #35 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmc6000 View Post

I'm sorry but I just can't take anything Al Franken says seriously. He really should have just stuck with comedy.

I'm sorry but that would imply that he was funny...
post #36 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Since this would basically destroy Google's reason for existence, I don't see this ever happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Apple doesn't collect your info without your consent idiot.

This legislation is aimed straight at Google which *does* collect your info without your consent on almost every product they make and they *do* sell it or give it to third parties as well.

Exactly my thoughts. Google should be deeply worried, because they will be more vulnerable to lawsuits arising from this.
post #37 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinemagic View Post

Al Franken is still an idiot.

I think you meant to say:"has always been" and "will always be"
post #38 of 55
Google's privacy details here:
http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacy/

As regards sharing data with 3rd parties:

Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:

We have your consent. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.
We provide such information to our subsidiaries, affiliated companies or other trusted businesses or persons for the purpose of processing personal information on our behalf. We require that these parties agree to process such information based on our instructions and in compliance with this Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.
We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) enforce applicable Terms of Service, including investigation of potential violations thereof, (c) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (d) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, its users or the public as required or permitted by law.
If Google becomes involved in a merger, acquisition, or any form of sale of some or all of its assets, we will ensure the confidentiality of any personal information involved in such transactions and provide notice before personal information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy.


And Apple's policy on sharing your personal data with 3rd parties:
http://www.apple.com/privacy/

Disclosure to Third Parties

At times Apple may make certain personal information available to strategic partners that work with Apple to provide products and services, or that help Apple market to customers. For example, when you purchase and activate your iPhone, you authorize Apple and its carrier to exchange the information you provide during the activation process to carry out service. If you are approved for service, your account will be governed by Apple and its carrier’s respective privacy policies. Personal information will only be shared by Apple to provide or improve our products, services and advertising; it will not be shared with third parties for their marketing purposes.

Service Providers
Apple shares personal information with companies who provide services such as information processing, extending credit, fulfilling customer orders, delivering products to you, managing and enhancing customer data, providing customer service, assessing your interest in our products and services, and conducting customer research or satisfaction surveys. These companies are obligated to protect your information and may be located wherever Apple operates.

Others
It may be necessary − by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence − for Apple to disclose your personal information. We may also disclose information about you if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate.

We may also disclose information about you if we determine that disclosure is reasonably necessary to enforce our terms and conditions or protect our operations or users. Additionally, in the event of a reorganization, merger, or sale we may transfer any and all personal information we collect to the relevant third party.

Apple doesn't specify they require your opt-in for personal data sharing, while Google does. Otherwise the two don't appear all that different.
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post #39 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by DominoXML View Post

Found this:

http://www.cultofmac.com/google-can-...iongate/100953

I wonder why location services need to store UUIDs, Mac-addresses and being able to link them with other personal data.
Yes I want to use location services, but I don't want to be tracked in this way.

The way that the location system works is that it uses three different sets of information. For starters there is Cell-phone tower positioning, then there is GPS and finally the phone uses local Wi-Fi zones.

The combination of all three allows for faster and more accurate positioning and the latter clearly needs for there to be a database of Wi-Fi databases including their SSIDs and their MAC addresses. That database was originally created by google wardriving through urban areas and has been further refined by crowdsourcing using android handsets.

Fundamentally the issue is that the more accurate location services become the more useful they are, but simultaneously the more scary they are.

here is Ars Technica explaining on why Wi-Fi locating is useful in dense urban areas

http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2...tion-might.ars
post #40 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

The way that the location system works is that it uses three different sets of information. For starters there is Cell-phone tower positioning, then there is GPS and finally the phone uses local Wi-Fi zones.

The combination of all three allows for faster and more accurate positioning and the latter clearly needs for there to be a database of Wi-Fi databases including their SSIDs and their MAC addresses. That database was originally created by google wardriving through urban areas and has been further refined by crowdsourcing using android handsets.

Fundamentally the issue is that the more accurate location services become the more useful they are, but simultaneously the more scary they are.

here is Ars Technica explaining on why Wi-Fi locating is useful in dense urban areas

http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2...tion-might.ars

Thanks for this link cloudgazer. I understand that this data is pretty helpful to get the accuracy we demand from our devices.

From the Cult of Mac article:

"None of this is really a problem except that now, Google and Skyhook Wireless are making their location databases publicly accessible. That means that if someone knows your devices MAC address, they can use Google Maps to track every location youve ever been with a margin of error between 100 and 200 feet.

According to Cnet, the problems pretty wide scale: they found that they can correspond approximately 10% of all laptops and mobile phones to physical addresses. All it takes is knowing your devices unique hardware ID."

The person who knows my hardware ID likely knows more like my address, perhaps my age, my job, the games I play, the websites I visit and much more simply by gathering those information through apps and websites.

I wonder if it's enough that Google has removed dozens of apps from their market place that collected user information and posting a privacy policy or if the bill in the US Senate is urgently needed.
If the article at Cnet is right every dev of such a malicious app is now able to track me because he sent my hardware ID and other data home and is able to use Google's data to complete the picture.

I doubt that this further aggregation and linking of additional data really helps to improve the accuracy of the positioning but serves other purposes.
May be I'm wrong, but the risk of misuse is pretty high and there are apparently no suitable laws to cover these aspects.
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