Apple And Google Face Tough Lawmaker Questions On Privacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Executives from Apple and Google are set to testify Thursday at a Senate hearing about the extent to which iPhones and handheld wireless devices running Google's Android software track the location of their users and store detailed histories of their movements. Both companies are facing questions following Apple's recent admission that iPhones were storing the locations of nearby cellphone towers and Wi-Fi hot spots for up to a year.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Executives from Apple and Google are set to testify Thursday at a Senate hearing about the extent to which iPhones and handheld wireless devices running Google's Android software track the location of their users and store detailed histories of their movements.

Both companies are facing questions following Apple's recent admission that iPhones were storing the locations of nearby cellphone towers and Wi-Fi hot spots for up to a year. That data can be used to create a rough map of the device owner's movements. Apple also revealed that a software bug caused iPhones to continue to send anonymous location data to the company's servers even when location services on the device were turned off.

Apple has said it will no longer store the data on phones for more than seven days, will encrypt the data and will stop backing up the files to user computers. It also has fixed the bug with a free software update.

Google, too, recently acknowledged that phones running Android store some GPS location data for a short time.

Catherine A. Novelli, vice president of worldwide government affairs for Apple Inc., and Alan Davidson, director of public policy for the Americas for Google Inc., are among the witnesses who will appear Thursday at a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on location tracking.

David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission's bureau of consumer protection, and Bret Taylor, chief technology officer for Facebook, are also scheduled to testify.

Thursday's Senate Commerce hearing is the second Congressional hearing on location tracking in as many weeks. Executives from Apple and Google also testified before a Senate Judiciary panel on the issue last week. And the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission have invited the companies to speak at a public forum planned for next month to explore the benefits and risks of location-based services.

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