Franken presses Apple on privacy

After security researchers revealed today that Apple’s best-selling iPhone and iPad devices contain a hidden file that secretly records the location of its user, DFL Sen. Al Franken wrote a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs demanding an explanation.

Franken wrote:

“Anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken–over the past months or even a year.”

He went on to ask that Apple provide information on how the location data is being collected and used and why consumers weren’t told that their personal information was being collected.

As head of the newly-formed Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, Franken is in a position to keep this issue alive, including calling public hearings, if he’s not happy with Apple’s response to the letter.

Coincidentally, Apple released its most recent quarterly results today. The company said it sold over 18 million iPhones and over four million iPads.

You can read the entire letter Franken wrote to Jobs here.

  • Richard Prince

    Huh? This is no secret. The file in question on the iPhone is used for the purposes of providing data to maps and other applications to assist in the operation. Apple is not data mining this information. They certainly are not using it to track your location. People act shocked and dismayed but, really, this is information that has not been concealed, it has been debated a discussed for months and Apple is not the only company using GPS tracking to assist in the operation of their smartphones.

    According to Alex Levinson Lead Engineer for Katana Forensics who studies and tracks data mining practices on the internet,“Apple is not harvesting this data from your device. This is data on the device that you as the customer purchased and unless they can show concrete evidence supporting this claim – network traffic analysis of connections to Apple servers — I rebut this claim in full. Through my research in this field and all traffic analysis I have performed, not once have I seen this data traverse a network.”

    The claims today by researches at O’Reilly are the result of sloppy investigation and poor reporting just as the story this morning on your morning tech report was dreadfully ignorant of the facts and how technology functions. More than likely you have your phone number and address stored in an address book on your cell phone. More than likely you’ve responded to numerous attempts by Google and Facebook to capture your personal data and other critical information about your whereabouts and they ARE mining this data. Apple is not.

    All this being said, it is a matter of concern and should be a matter of public debate about the data mining practices. However, it should not be guided by poor and shoddy journalism and inflamed ignorance we witnessed this morning on MPR and with O’Reilly. Your tech reporters must write and report to a higher standard of fact.

  • shamwow

    Richard == Apple troll shill.

    Also, buttons like “Post” are mean to be single-clicked, not double clicked.

  • Richard Prince

    So some reason your system posted by comment twice… are you tracking my locations? Go ahead and delete one of them and this comment since your readers don’t need to see it more than once.

  • Richard Prince

    Eat sh#t shamwow. Deal with the truth and not your little mindless games of name calling and polarizing shame when people are pointing out the realities. Stupidity begins and ends with your trivialization of others and you off the cuff characterizations meant to demean and belittle.

  • Richard Prince

    What about the cookies your web browser is keeping about you and sending out and back across traversing the web? That’s clearly a much larger privacy issue for hundreds of millions of computer users than GPS info being used to help with mapping on your iPhone. The data is being captured and tracked on your iPhone but what about the cookies in your web browser? What about your IP address on the network?

  • Richard Prince

    What about the cookies your web browser is keeping about you and sending out and back across traversing the web? That’s clearly a much larger privacy issue for hundreds of millions of computer users than GPS info being used to help with mapping on your iPhone. The data is not being captured and tracked on your iPhone but what about the cookies in your web browser? What about your IP address on the network?

  • Richard Prince

    Now the double entry for the price of one is getting to be kind of fun! So broken… so broken…