Tough EU smartphone location laws could hit Android and iOS

Devices running Apple's iOS or Google's Android may well be soon subject to stricter regulation around location services, position logging and privacy. A European data protection advisory panel has suggested to the EU that the location information both platforms capture should fall under the umbrella of "personal data", reports the Financial Times; if the committee's advice is followed, Apple and Google would likely face tighter location data laws in the updated Data Protection Directive later in 2011.

That would impact both smartphones and tablets, and not of course just Android and iOS. Both platforms have been at the center of privacy palavers in the past few months, however, with an iOS bug blamed for year-long records of iPhone user position, while Android has been found to make repeated, periodic reports of where devices are located back to Google. The search giant is already facing a lawsuit over its tracking policies.

"Since smartphones and tablet computers are inextricably linked to their owner, the movement patterns of the devices provide a very intimate insight into the private life of the owners. One of the great risks is that the owners are unaware they transmit their location, and to whom" Article 29 Working Party

Apple and Google say the data is strictly anonymous and carefully protected, but their assurances seem to have fallen on deaf ears when it comes to the EU advisory panel. They're calling for location services to be turned off by default, and that companies should not only seek permission before activating those services but specify what purpose the data will be used for.