Update: Congress Seeks Answers from Apple on iPhone Location Data

Published On April 22, 2011 | By Elizabeth Banker | Data Security, Privacy
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Update:  Congress Seeks Answers from Apple on iPhone Location Data

Senator Al Franken and Representative Ed Markey have both issued letters to Apple CEO Steve Jobs seeking answers about the privacy concerns raised by a recent report that the iPhone stores user location information. To read more about that report see yesterday’s post.

Sen. Franken’s letter begins by laying out scenarios where such location information could be accessed and misused, and specifically raises concerns about the safety of minors who use iPhones or iPads.  The letter goes on to ask Jobs for a “prompt” response to nine questions which inquire into the purpose of the tracking file, the technology used, encryption (or lack thereof) of the data, and whether the practice is consistent with the Apple Privacy Policy.

Rep. Markey’s letter is similar to a letter he sent to Apple in the Summer of 2010 inquiring into location data tracking and related privacy issues.  The new Markey letter asks Apple to again weigh in on whether it is required by Section 222 of the Communications Act to obtain express consent from its users before collecting location information.  Apple has previously responded to this question by arguing that Section 222 does not apply to Apple.  Sen. Franken’s letter also asks Apple whether it obtained affirmative consent from users for the collection of this information.

Markey’s letter requests a response within 15 days.  It is likely once Congress returns to DC in May that this issue will attract additional interest.

About The Author

Elizabeth Banker has developed a practice that includes advising clients on interactions with foreign and domestic law enforcement, strategic issues related to data storage and transfers, providing advice on surveillance and employee monitoring laws inside and outside the U.S., as well as data protection, security and consumer protection issues.

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