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Congress requests privacy briefing in letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook

post #1 of 47
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In a letter to Tim Cook on Wednesday, members of a U.S. Congress subcommittee requested that Apple send a representative to Washington to brief government officials on what the company is doing to protect the personal information stored on iOS devices.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce claims that Cook's initial response to a letter sent in February regarding iOS privacy practices was insufficient, and is asking that Apple give more detailed information as to what the company is doing to protect its customers, reports VentureBeat.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, write that Apple's March 2nd response did "not answer a number of the questions we raised about the company’s efforts to protect the privacy and security of its mobile device users."

The officials go on to voice concern over certain iOS apps having access to photos as well as unnamed "tools" provided by Apple that can lead to unwanted "online tracking." It is unclear whether the statement is in regard to a recent call for an FTC investigation over a loophole that allows an app to upload photos if it authorized to access location data. Because the photos were geo-tagged, it is conceivable that a user's could be tracked as long as they kept taking pictures with location data turned on.


Click for PDF.


The security of iOS was first questioned when it was discovered that social networking app "Path" was uploading information from users' address books to its servers without first asking permission. The so-called "feature" was meant to allow for a more streamlined experience when adding friends, and in doing so illustrated a vulnerability that could be exploited by malicious apps to retrieve a user's personal information.

Shortly after the discovery, Path issued an apology and changed the way it handled sensitive information. Apple followed suit and updated iOS, requiring that apps first ask for user permission before accessing a device's address book.


[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 47
it's amazing that the focus is on Apple's mobile devices when throughout the history of computing if an app has access to the user space it also has access to user's photos, contacts, browser history, etc. Even now some app you install on my Mac or Win PC could be collecting data without you knowing. Hopefully that Mac App Store sandboxing prevents this but that remains to be seen what areas it can read.

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post #3 of 47
I'm so glad our Congress was finally able to solve our gargantuan deficit, our crumbling infrastructure, our failing schools, the money-sucking Post Office, etc. etc. etc., and now has time to focus on what *really* matters, like privacy issues on mobile phones.
post #4 of 47
This is a price to pay for having the biggest thumb.

Nobody said being "#1" was easy.

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post #5 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

I'm so glad our Congress was finally able to solve our gargantuan deficit, our crumbling infrastructure, our failing schools, the money-sucking Post Office, etc. etc. etc., and now has time to focus on what *really* matters, like privacy issues on mobile phones.

I don't think it's fair to expect that everything else to be dropped to focus on a single issue, no matter how important. Surely a country or business couldn't function if everyone was doing the same task and no other task.

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post #6 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I don't think it's fair to expect that everything else to be dropped to focus on a single issue, no matter how important. Surely a country or business couldn't function if everyone was doing the same task and no other task.

huh?! what do you mean?

The guy was pointing out other more important issues that are far more deserving their attention far more than this is.
post #7 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I don't think it's fair to expect that everything else to be dropped to focus on a single issue, no matter how important. Surely a country or business couldn't function if everyone was doing the same task and no other task.

I don't know about you, but I didn't see the poster list "one issue" or a "single task". Surely, you can understand his point about maybe having other MULTIPLE priorities right now in the United States and the world that might take a little more precedence. Even the Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce has some bigger fish to fry: maybe gas prices, etc.?
post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

it's amazing that the focus is on Apple's mobile devices when throughout the history of computing if an app has access to the user space it also has access to user's photos, contacts, browser history, etc. Even now some app you install on my Mac or Win PC could be collecting data without you knowing. Hopefully that Mac App Store sandboxing prevents this but that remains to be seen what areas it can read.

I agree. It's kind of weird.
post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

huh?! what do you mean?

The guy was pointing out other more important issues that are far more deserving their attention far more than this is.

Then his sarcastic remark hides that fact by the implication that if they are spending any time on this issue that they can't possibly be working on other issues.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ttollerton View Post

I don't know about you, but I didn't see the poster list "one issue" or a "single task". Surely, you can understand his point about maybe having other MULTIPLE priorities right now in the United States and the world that might take a little more precedence. Even the Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce has some bigger fish to fry: maybe gas prices, etc.?

His implication is clear. If Congress is dealing with the this then they can't be dealing with anything else which isn't remotely true. It's the exact same crap where people say Apple should spend more efforts innovating instead of litigating as if the lawyers are splitting their time between R&D at Apple.

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post #10 of 47
Get Ive to handle it while he's out for dinner.
Hmmmmmm...
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Hmmmmmm...
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post #11 of 47
If we all just used film cameras, and only used our iPhones to place telephone calls (it is a phone, right?), then we wouldn't have these problems.

Apple opening the gates to make the iPhone a development platform for 3rd parties has allowed these malicious-type apps to slip in and become available on the app store, which poses a risk for people having their content hacked from their device.

Again, if it was a more closed system, we probably wouldn't be having this issues.

Mirroring above, let's hope the sandboxing can ameliorate some of this.
post #12 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Then his sarcastic remark hides that fact by the implication that if they are spending any time on this issue that they can't possibly be working on other issues.




His implication is clear. If Congress is dealing with the this then they can't be dealing with anything else which isn't remotely true. It's the exact same crap where people say Apple should spend more efforts innovating instead of litigating as if the lawyers are splitting their time between R&D at Apple.

Listen I'm all for multi-tasking but this is ridiculous. They don't even meet very often and when they do they are BS-ing around on this stuff instead of working on much bigger problems. Maybe if they focused on our education infrastructure and health care... they wouldn't have a 9% approval rating.
post #13 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Listen I'm all for multi-tasking but this is ridiculous. They don't even meet very often and when they do they are BS-ing around on this stuff instead of working on much bigger problems. Maybe if they focused on our education infrastructure and health care... they wouldn't have a 9% approval rating.

No argument from me that Congress can't do a much, much better job but that doesn't prevent the OP's comment from being a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter or a non sequitur argument. Because of the sarcastic twist I can't tell which one applies more.

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post #14 of 47
LOL - As Google and Facebook pillage peoples personal information they are focused on Apple who provides these services not to make money buy to sell hardware.

Then again it is that stooge Henry Waxman.
post #15 of 47
with great power comes great responsibility
post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcallows View Post

with great power comes great responsibility

No wiser words have ever been uttered about the 'web'.

So, it looks like while Jony's having the grilled at Obama's dinner, the Cook will be getting grilled.
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

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Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
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post #17 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In a letter to Tim Cook on Wednesday, members of a U.S. Congress subcommittee requested that Apple send a representative to Washington to brief government officials on what the company is doing to protect the personal information stored on iOS devices.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce claims that Cook's initial response to a letter sent in February regarding iOS privacy practices was insufficient, and is asking that Apple give more detailed information as to what the company is doing to protect its customers, reports VentureBeat.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, Rep. G.K. Butterfield, write that Apple's March 2nd response did "not answer a number of the questions we raised about the companys efforts to protect the privacy and security of its mobile device users."

The officials go on to voice concern over certain iOS apps having access to photos as well as unnamed "tools" provided by Apple that can lead to unwanted "online tracking." It is unclear whether the statement is in regard to a recent call for an FTC investigation over a loophole that allows an app to upload photos if it authorized to access location data. Because the photos were geo-tagged, it is conceivable that a user's could be tracked as long as they kept taking pictures with location data turned on.


Click for PDF.


The security of iOS was first questioned when it was discovered that social networking app "Path" was uploading information from users' address books to its servers without first asking permission. The so-called "feature" was meant to allow for a more streamlined experience when adding friends, and in doing so illustrated a vulnerability that could be exploited by malicious apps to retrieve a user's personal information.

Shortly after the discovery, Path issued an apology and changed the way it handled sensitive information. Apple followed suit and updated iOS, requiring that apps first ask for user permission before accessing a device's address book.


[ View article on AppleInsider ]

Seriously, spend your time fixing our out of control deficit that is going to destroy us. Vs. spending time in Apple's pants. We are going to soon be $20 trillion in debt

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post #18 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Oak View Post

We are going to soon be $20 trillion in debt

But at least, with the United States privacy laws, nobody in America will know about it.

A perfect, political solution.
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
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Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
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post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

They don't even meet very often

I don't really get that, either. If I ever ran for Congress, I'd be working every single day. Screw vacation days. We can take a vacation when we have a surplus, not a deficit.

I love that Congress thinks it can tell Apple what to do. Obviously I don't mean that in the legal sense, I mean it in the sense that the government has a $16 trillion debt and Apple has $100 billion in the bank. Pretty sure we know who to follow here.

We need a Steve Jobs character for president. Stop trying to get the ship facing the right direction.
post #20 of 47
The private information on our cell phones is not only a hold mine to companies like Google but it's their life blood. That's the reason Google went to the trouble and expense of writing a mobile OS. Google has no choice but to do whatever it takes to get at that info, even if it's illegal. It's not that essential to diversified companies like Apple so when their outer the "coding error" is fixed. If Google were to stop taping into the private info stored on your cell phone they would not be able to sell location based advertising and their revenue would go down the tube.

I cringe everytime I see my location after a Google web search on my PC. And it CAN NOT be turned off. I have reduced my usage of Google substantially because of it.
post #21 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Maybe if they focused on our education infrastructure and health care... they wouldn't have a 9% approval rating.

Maybe if Apple focused a little more on protecting users, and a little less on making as much profit as possible, they wouldn't be in this sort of trouble.

/s
post #22 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

We need a Steve Jobs character for president. Stop trying to get the ship facing the right direction.

I mean no offense by this, but the sooner we Americans realize that the powers the President possess are extremely limited in scope, and that the man in the office is almost a cheerleader when it comes to what really happens at the federal level, the better. The split of the 3 branches off government prevent even the most charismatic leader from exercising the type of control that Steve Jobs did with Apple.
post #23 of 47
Lest anyone is curious, as it isn't mentioned in the article, both of the aforementioned Representatives are Democrats.
post #24 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Maybe if Apple focused a little more on protecting users, and a little less on making as much profit as possible, they wouldn't be in this sort of trouble.

/s

Please this is a witch hunt at best. Apple has been doing all it can to protect users. How many meetings do these people need? It's not like they haven't had numerous meetings around the same subjects before. They are just grandstanding the issue more than actually getting some real work done.

This is a complete distraction from more important issues education, infrastructure and health care.
post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Ferrari View Post

I mean no offense by this, but the sooner we Americans realize that the powers the President possess are extremely limited in scope, and that the man in the office is almost a cheerleader when it comes to what really happens at the federal level, the better. The split of the 3 branches off government prevent even the most charismatic leader from exercising the type of control that Steve Jobs did with Apple.

Those dumb people keep voting for these same old people into congress. Congress needs some fresh young blood in there. Seriously.
post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

I'm so glad our Congress was finally able to solve our gargantuan deficit, our crumbling infrastructure, our failing schools, the money-sucking Post Office, etc. etc. etc., and now has time to focus on what *really* matters, like privacy issues on mobile phones.


Isn't that kind of like criticizing the medical community for doing diabetes research while people are dying of cancer?
post #27 of 47
They probably want to figure out how they can create their own app, so they can spy on the citizens of the USA. 'Angry Eagles' anyone ???
post #28 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Oak View Post

Seriously, spend your time fixing our out of control deficit that is going to destroy us. Vs. spending time in Apple's pants. We are going to soon be $20 trillion in debt

That statement is about as silly as my telling you that you should be spending more time with your family and impove your kids'/partner's/family members' lives than wasting your time posting anonymously on some internet forum!
post #29 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Maybe if Apple focused a little more on protecting users, and a little less on making as much profit as possible, they wouldn't be in this sort of trouble.

/s

Zzzzzzz......
post #30 of 47
Thanks for wasting Tim Cook's valuable time, Waxman.

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post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Apple View Post

Lest anyone is curious, as it isn't mentioned in the article, both of the aforementioned Representatives are Democrats.

Correct. Maybe they're looking for some "back of the truck" iPads.

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post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post

Isn't that kind of like criticizing the medical community for doing diabetes research while people are dying of cancer?

Quite similar. Also like criticizing people for supporting battered women's shelters while other women are starving to death.
post #33 of 47
Dear Congress,

that information is private and subject to our agreements with our customers.

Yours

Apple
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post #34 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Those dumb people keep voting for these same old people into congress.

Speaking of voting the same people in, I'm thoroughly embarrassed at my state for allowing a man who hasn't legally lived here since 1977 go to Congress for us.

And infuriated when I know he won't get ANY punishment at all for it. He needs to be fined the sum total of his salary for all years he served, plus interest, and be legally barred from ever holding any sort of office ever again. I don't want him on the refreshments committee at my local high school.
post #35 of 47
I agree with much of what was said in the above posts. But lets face it. They might be more concerned with their own data...for whatever reason...instead of everyone else's data. The letter specifically mentions browser tracking and photographs. Hmmm. And like someone mentioned in an earlier post, this isn't much different then on you computer.

I am happy to know this is one of the top agendas up on Capital Hill.
post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

it's amazing that the focus is on Apple's mobile devices when throughout the history of computing if an app has access to the user space it also has access to user's photos, contacts, browser history, etc. Even now some app you install on my Mac or Win PC could be collecting data without you knowing. Hopefully that Mac App Store sandboxing prevents this but that remains to be seen what areas it can read.

It's also amazing that Congress is focusing publicly on Apple when the Android platform is much worse than Apple in this regard. I'm sure they are looking into all major platforms, but Facebook and Google needs to be regulated by law because they have proven in the past and continues to be unreliable in protecting personal privacy. Facebook and Google exist to invade privacy not Apple. Well as least the issue is being publicly debated.
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by k2director View Post

I'm so glad our Congress was finally able to solve our gargantuan deficit, our crumbling infrastructure, our failing schools, the money-sucking Post Office, etc. etc. etc., and now has time to focus on what *really* matters, like privacy issues on mobile phones.

I realize your sentiment is popular today by many people less informed on how the US Government works. But to be fair, Congress works on many issues simultaneously through the various committees. The reason it works or doesn't work as fast as we would like was built into the Constitution by our Founding Fathers. It hard for 534 representatives to come to a consensus. The federal Government exist to safe guard all the people. No easy task. We, with our local concerns, don't always fall on the winning side and that's the way it should be. It's arrogant to believe my way is the only right way. You should be happy you live in a Democracy. A dictatorship wouldn't allow you to say the things you said here.
post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljocampo View Post

It's also amazing that Congress is focusing publicly on Apple when the Android platform is much worse than Apple in this regard.

But don't you think that's because Android is like a space alien that you can't even figure out which end is the head, or which of its twenty heads is the one you should be concerned about? What Apple has created is something that people know where to go for stuff like this. To Apple. Not to be flip and say that Congress looked up Android in the phone book and didn't find anything, but that's the gist.

There's unfortunately a hundred places to turn to root out Android controversies and just one for our friend Apple. : )
post #39 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ttollerton View Post

I don't know about you, but I didn't see the poster list "one issue" or a "single task". Surely, you can understand his point about maybe having other MULTIPLE priorities right now in the United States and the world that might take a little more precedence. Even the Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce has some bigger fish to fry: maybe gas prices, etc.?

You are so ignorant in thinking that Congress is NOT working on all those issues. Do you really think the Dept. of Energy and the Subcommittee on Energy in Congress are one of the same? Besides, Congress does not make policy (that's Obama's job) they oversee it. Do you really think that the committee ISN'T working on gas pricing? Are you one of those people who can't chew bubble gum and fart at the same time? (Sorry about that one) The point is a Congressman/woman has many support staff all working on their particular expertise. If you and those others here who support your point of view, have a gripe on how well policy is working for you, maybe you should be directing it towards the Oval Office in November, assuming you do actually vote.
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

No argument from me that Congress can't do a much, much better job but that doesn't prevent the OP's comment from being a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter or a non sequitur argument. Because of the sarcastic twist I can't tell which one applies more.

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