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Apple, Google grilled on data controls

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 02:26

May 10 - Apple and Google defended their privacy practices before Senate lawmakers at a hearing on how they collect personal information from consumers via smartphones. Sarah Toms reports.

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Apple and Google face a grilling in Washington at a Senate hearing on privacy. It comes weeks after the revelation that smartphones and tablets from both companies can track users' location data and store it up to a year. The information is a potential gold mine for marketing companies. Senator Al Franken chairs the subcommittee looking at whether federal privacy laws are keeping pace as technology advances. SOUNDBITE: SENATOR AL FRANKEN, CHAIRMAN, SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON PRIVACY, TECHNOLOGY AND THE LAW (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Don't get me wrong. The existence of this business model is not a bad thing. I love that I can use Google maps -- for free no less -- and the same for the app on my iPad that tells me the weather, but I think there's a balance, a balance, we need to strike and this means we begin to change the way we think about privacy to account for the massive shift of our personal information into the hands of the private sector." Franken warned that breaches of privacy "can have real consequences" such as victims being stalked via GPS devices. Both companies defended their privacy practices. Apple executive Guy Tribble says the company does not track users' locations. SOUNDBITE: GUY TRIBBLE, APPLE EXECUTIVE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Apple is deeply committed to protecting the privacy of all our customers. The company shares the committee's concerns about the collection and potential misuse of all customer data, particularly personal information." Google says its Android devices collect location data but only with the consent of users. Jessica Rich of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection said it's the "always on, always with you" nature of smart phones that's a cause for concern. SOUNDBITE: JESSICA RICH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION BUREAU OF CONSUMER PROTECTION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We're moving forward rapidly and devoting resources to keep track with new technologies. The new technologies don't change companies responsibilities to ensure that consumers understand and control data collection and that their information doesn't fall into the wrong hands." Although lawmakers want to update privacy laws - they haven't yet decided what to do - leaving consumers wondering just how secure their private data really is - and whether smart phones are perhaps just a little too smart. Sarah Toms, Reuters.

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Apple, Google grilled on data controls

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 02:26