Franken releases witness list for smartphone privacy hearings

Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt won’t be sitting at the witness table next week, but both companies are sending high-level representatives to DFL Sen. Al Franken’s highly-publicized hearings on privacy issues surround smartphones.

Franken released the witness list today and it includes Guy “Bud” Tribble, Apple’s Vice President of Software Technology and Alan Davidson, Google’s Director of Public Policy. In a letter several weeks ago, Franken had specifically called on both companies to testify at the upcoming hearings.

The hearings, which take place next Tuesday morning, are the first for the newly-constituted Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, which Franken leads.

These hearings were already in the planning stage when security researchers revealed a hidden file on Apple’s iOS devices (which include iPhones and iPads) that tracks users’ locations. After the existence of the tracking file came to light, Franken called on Apple and Google, which together control the two most dynamic smartphone platforms, to explain how both companies use their customers’ data.

Other witnesses include Jessica Rich, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Federal Trade Commission and Jason Weinstein, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice. Security professionals and trade group representatives will also testify.