SANTA MONICA, CA – New details of how tech giants Google and Apple spy on users of their smartphones demonstrate the need for Do Not Track Me legislation that would cover mobile devices, Consumer Watchdog said today.
A Wall Street Journal article today revealed that Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to the respective companies. They also gather information on Wi-Fi networks near the smartphones and transmit that data to the companies’ databases as well.
Earlier this week it was revealed that iPhones and iPads collect geolocation data and store it in an unencrypted file on the devices.
“These aren’t smartphones; they are spy phones,” said John M. Simpson, director of the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group’s Privacy Project. “Consumers must have the right to control whether their data is gathered and how it is used.”
The Federal Trade Commission’s report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change,” proposed a Do Not Track mechanism last December. Since then Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, has introduced HR 654, the Do Not Track Me Online Act.
In California Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, has introduced SB 761, a bill that would establish a Do Not Track mechanism for companies doing business in California.
A “Do Not Track” mechanism is a method that allows a consumer to send a clear, unambiguous message that one’s online activities should not be tracked. Recipients of the message would be required to honor it.
“The mobile world is the wild west of the Internet where these tech giants seem to think anything goes,” said Simpson. “Consumers need the same sort of strong privacy protections whether they go online via a wired device or a mobile device.”
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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA. Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com.