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Mobile privacy safeguards should also extend to third-party application developers, two lawmakers said after reviewing the practices of four major U.S. wireless carriers.
Representatives Edward Markey and Joe Barton, co-chairs of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, released on Thursday letters they received from Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Nextel Corp and T-Mobile in response to their inquiries last month about the collection, use and storage of location data.
The letters showed the wireless carriers generally asked customers before accessing their location data.
But developers of popular mobile phone applications were less than forthcoming about their tracking.
“Third-party developers can access the location of customers any time they want,” Barton said. “They shouldn’t have free reign over your location data and personally identifiable information.”
Markey echoed this sentiment, saying consumer privacy protections must apply “across the entire wireless ecosystem — from wireless carriers, to mobile handset makers, to application developers.”
Markey and Barton grew concerned about location tracking after media reports found that Deutsche Telekom AG tracked the exact coordinates of a German politician using its service over a six-month period…
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller will hold a hearing in May on consumer protection and privacy in the mobile marketplace. Senator Al Franken said on Thursday both Google and Apple would attend his May 10 hearing, the first by the new Senate judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law.
It is unclear if this legislative scrutiny will lead to strict new privacy laws that will include app developers.
It is also unclear if this legislative scrutiny will lead to anything useful at all. Congress becoming interested in privacy for American citizens is the ultimate in hypocrisy after rolling over and sticking all four feet in the air, passing and re-passing the so-called Patriot Act. More likely they’ll try to add a provision requiring a backdoor for the NSA.