Tuesday, 10 July 2018 11:42

US politicians quiz Apple, Google over user privacy

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US politicians quiz Apple, Google over user privacy Pixabay

A number of US politicians have written to Alphabet chief executive Larry Page and Apple chief executive Tim Cook, raising questions about the handling of personal information of users.

A report in The Wall Street Journal said the letter indicated that privacy concerns, that surfaced when Facebook was found to have provided user information to data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, had now spread to other companies.

Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the US House of Representatives said in the letter that their concerns had arisen following recent media reports.

One report was about Google allowing third-party developers to have access to users' Gmail accounts.

The letter said the reports had said the Android mobile operating system collected location data and transmitted it back to Alphabet's Google unit even when location services were turned off by users.

The politicians said "this alleged behaviour is troubling", in the letter, which was signed by committee chairman Republican Greg Walden of Oregon, and three sub-committee chairmen: Republican Representatives Gregg Harper of Mississippi, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Robert Latta of Ohio.

The WSJ said the letter sent to Cook raised fewer issues but asked about the collection and transmission of location data. It said that statements made by Cook and Apple's actions “raise questions about how Apple device users’ data is protected and when it is shared and compiled".

Facebook is already under investigation by government bodies, including the Federal Trade Commission.

The letters are the first to ask any company apart from Facebook about privacy practices.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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