Senator Schumer asks FTC to probe Apple, Android

NEW YORK Sun Mar 4, 2012 6:42pm EST

A customer uses his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California October 14, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A customer uses his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California October 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. senator has urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate reports that applications on the Apple Inc and Google Inc mobile systems steal private photos and contacts and post them online without consent.

Democrat Charles Schumer's request comes after iPhone maker Apple tweaked its privacy policies last month after prodding from other lawmakers.

The distribution of third-party applications on iPhones and phones running on Google's Android system has helped create a surge in the popularity of those devices in recent years.

However, Schumer said on Sunday that he was concerned about a New York Times report that iPhone and Android applications can access a user's private photo collection.

He also referred to a discovery last month that applications on devices such as the iPhone and iPad were able to upload entire address books with names, telephone numbers and email addresses to their own servers.

"These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app's functionality," Schumer said in a letter to the FTC.

The lawmaker said it was his understanding that many of these uses violate the terms of service of the Apple and Android platforms. He said "it is not clear whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored".

As a result, he said, "smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user's personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public".

Schumer said phone makers have an obligation to protect the private content of their customers.

"When someone takes a private photo, on a private cell phone, it should remain just that: private," said Schumer.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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Comments (3)
puggsly wrote:
What makes this idiot think he has the right or power to demand anything of Apple, or Google, let alone foreign companies like HTC, Samsung, and Nokia? And why hasn’t he contacted Microsoft for allowing this data to be accessed for DECADES on Windows Computers or why did he wait so long to go after Apple who has ALWAYS allowed access to the file system.

The market will decide what level of access they are comfortable with. Locking down access to personal data can limit functionality. Requiring every application to ask for permission can get annoying. Let the users and market decide and get him back to work on cutting back the waste in government.

Mar 04, 2012 11:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
davesmall wrote:
How did this moron Schumer ever get anyone to vote for him? Really puzzling. I wouldn’t trust him to find the men’s room on his own.

Mar 05, 2012 9:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
HeroicLife wrote:
Politicians: act outraged because brand new operating systems do not magically anticipate every possible privacy breach — then try to pass laws allowing the government to spy, jail, and kill us on a whim- – that is when they aren’t passing laws paid for by media companies to convict kids of felonies and ruin the Internet because of their outdated business models.

Mar 06, 2012 11:32am EST  --  Report as abuse
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