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US politicians quiz Apple, Google over user privacy

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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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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