Feeds

Pandora subpoenaed over privacy of iPhone, Android apps

Part of industry-wide dragnet

The essential guide to IT transformation

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed online radio service Pandora for documents related to the privacy of smartphone apps it offers for Apple's iPhone and Google's Android operating system.

The document demand, which was made earlier this year, was part of a larger set of subpoenas issued on an industry-wide basis to publishers of smartphone apps, Pandora said in a filing issued Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The California-based company doesn't believe it's the target of the investigation, the filing said.

The revelation came as The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether smartphone apps have been illegally collecting information about handset users without proper disclosures. The probe, according to an unnamed person familiar with the matter, is examining whether app makers provided adequate legal notice before tracking information such as the user's geographic whereabouts and the unique identifier of their phone.

The investigation is the latest sign of unease about the wealth of personal details being swept up by online services eager to deliver advertisements targeted to specific users. In early December, the Federal Trade Commission recommended consumers be given a “do not track” option that prevents websites and advertisers from compiling data about their web-browsing habits. A few weeks later, Apple was slapped with a lawsuit alleging that it allowed iOS applications to provide advertisers with sensitive user information that's supposed to remain private.

A large number of applications that run on Apple's iOS collect serial numbers that uniquely identify the hardware device, according to a study issued in October that warned that the practice could compromise users' privacy. More recently, tens of thousands of users of smartphones running Android downloaded apps from Google's apps Market that secretly commandeered their handsets.

Both Apple and Google have defended the privacy protections offered by the iOS and Android. If reports about the grand jury investigation are correct, the world may soon have a large body of evidence proving or debunking these claims. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.