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May 17, 2011

U.S. Senate to Hold Second Hearing on Mobile Privacy Issues

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Apple (News - Alert) and Google will once again appear before the U.S. Senate this week to talk about issues related to mobile privacy.

The companies will be represented before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. An official from Facebook (News - Alert) is expected to join them during the May 19 hearings.

The hearings will focus on “consumer privacy and protection in the mobile marketplace,” according to the U.S. Senate website.   

The Senate Commerce Committee is chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) Last week, representatives of Google and Apple found themselves on the hot seat as U.S. Senators questioned them about privacy issues related to smartphone use, according to a report from TMCnet.

The officials were grilled on how the companies use location data gathered from smartphones.“Consumers have a fundamental right to know what data is being collected about them,” U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, said as last week’s hearing got underway, reports TMCnet.

The Washington Post said that Thursday’s speakers list is similar to last week’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on mobile privacy, with reps taking part from the Association for Competitive Technology and the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection Bureau.

Also, Google’s Alan Davidson (News - Alert), Apple’s Catherine Novelli, Facebook’s Bret Taylor and Common Sense Media’s Amy Guggenheim Shenkan will testify before the Senators during this week’s hearing, The Post reports.

In a related matter, Reuters reports that Apple and Google, as well as other technology companies, are hopeful that “tracks of millions of mobile device users will lead to billions of dollars in revenue.”By 2014, it may be worth $3 billion or more, Carter Lusher, an analyst at Ovum (News - Alert), recently told Reuters.But Franken and other legislators may want to push for new laws to restrict companies’ use of confidential data, according to TMCnet. 

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Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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