Senator demands FTC iPhone, Android photo privacy probe
Smartphone sniffer apps snoop
The Federal Trade Commission has been urged by a US senator to probe allegations that apps installed on Apple and Google Android mobile handsets slurp users' private photos and contacts without first gaining the consent of the customer.
Reuters reported yesterday that Democrat Charles Schumer had been in touch with the FTC after reading a New York Times report that showed how iPhone apps could gain access to an individual's private photo collection and consequently post them online.
And it turns out Google's Android system can be similarly manipulated.
In a letter to the commission, the lawmaker wrote that he was concerned about such apps having the ability – along with photo-slurping capability – to lift entire address books from devices including Apple's iPad and then copy them over to separate 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 his missive to the FTC, according to Reuters.
He went on to claim that Apple and Google Android's terms of service had been violated by such usage by apps that slurp personal data from the devices without gaining permission from the punter.
Schumer added that it was unclear "whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored" by Cupertino and Mountain View.
The senator called on smartphone vendors "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".
Apple and Google couldn't immediately be reached for comment at time of writing. ®
Privacy Attitude in USA
If anyone really cared about privacy then why would Spokeo exist? USA has become the land of the opt out, and if you read the privacy statements of the likes of Spokeo it is basically, "What are you gonna do about it punk?" To remove your information you have to give an email address (a throwaway obviously.) That is just plain wrong.
Problem is really that this attitude is so pervasive and nobody seems to care. This extreme culture of Opt Out is just acceptable, and nobody challenges it...and over the years an attitude that fosters Spokeo's and Google's business models emerges that is adopted by developers in case they can cash in too. So the FTC needs to do something about it? I would say that the standard already exists. Snail Mail is private in its flimsy paper wrapper left in a box on the street right? But open mail sent with US Postal Service and it is a Federal crime. Go to jail. Enact laws that prohibit using people's information at all without their express approval, because it doesn't belong to you. End of story. Make companies realize that just because they can do something doesn't mean that they should.
"If you think nothing of your privacy why are posting as AC?"
Where do I say that? What I'm saying is this politician doesn't give two craps about privacy on your or anyone else's phone.
What he's doing is using a current news topic to try to gain favour, which is what my comment is saying, try reading it without your commentard rage inserting "I think nothing of my privacy".
My final point that seems to have eluded you, is that if this guy did care about privacy, he would be campaigning to get Windows & MacOS equally as "privacy friendly" as he expects the iPhone and Android phones - since Windows is far more compromised than either.
It has been said the most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck You Schumer and a TV camera.