Fresh from being grilled at last week’s Senate Judiciary panel, Apple and Google may next have to participate in a public forum to answer more questions on their phones’ location tracking. This time, it’s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that want some answers. They are “inviting” Apple and Google to explain themselves in a public forum they intend on hosting next month.
The FCC and FTC joint effort will be a public forum that will explore the benefits and risks of location-based services. They will look at whether companies disclose enough information for consumers to understand how location-based services work and what privacy trade-offs they are making by accepting to use those services.
Besides Apple and Google, wireless company execs, consumer advocates, and academics have all been invited to speak at the forum next month. Although other wireless and mobile platform companies such as Microsoft and RIM may also be guilty of location tracking, none of them were as bad as the worst offender, Apple.
Apple’s location tracking was blamed on a bug in their firmware that not only tracked location data, but stored well over a year’s worth of the location data in an unencrypted file that would then get backed up to iTunes when syncing. The data could then easily be plotted out with an app called iPhone Tracker, developed by two researchers that first pointed out the problem. However, Apple has addressed most of the issues in its recent firmware update, and will encrypt the actual location data file in the upcoming iOS 5.
[via GreenVille Online]