U.S. Senator Asks FTC to Investigate Apple and Google Over Photo Uploads to Appmakers [Updated]
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate reports that Apple and Google give app developers access to videos and photos on users smartphones.
From Senator Schumer's press release:
“When someone takes a private photo, on a private cell phone, it should remain just that: private,” said Schumer. “Smartphone developers have an obligation to protect the private content of their users and not allow them to be veritable treasure troves of private, personal information that can then be uploaded and distributed without the consumer’s consent.”
According to reports by independent technologists, two separate loopholes, one in the Apple operating system and one in the Android operating system, allow apps to gather users’ photos. In the case of Apple, if a user allows the application to use location data, which is used for GPS-based applications, they also allow access to the user’s photo and video files that can be uploaded to outside servers. In the case of Android-based applications, the user only needs to allow the application to use Internet services as part of the app for third parties to gain access to photo albums.
Apple has attracted Congressional attention over its privacy policies several times in the past, once last year over location-tracking issues, and again earlier this year over the discovery that iOS app Path was uploading entire user address books to its servers.
However, The Verge reports that the photo uploading ability Schumer refers to is a bug, and a fix is on the way in an upcoming version of the iOS software.
Update: According to Senator Schumer, representatives from both Apple and Google have agreed to meet with him.
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