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Senator Al Franken asks iOS developers to provide "clear and understandable privacy policies"

Dana Franklin

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Following up on requests he made to Apple and Google in his hearing on mobile privacy earlier this month, US Senator Al Franken wrote a letter to the companies' respective CEOs asking them to require all software sold through the App Store and Android App Market to provide consumers with "clear and understandable privacy policies."

Franken conceded that most customers never read the legal notices packaged with apps or think to look for a privacy statement for each (or any) app they install. He added that privacy notices alone wouldn't address all of the senator's privacy concerns.

Even so, he observed that Apple and Google are market leaders capable of taking this "simple first step towards protecting [their] users' privacy." Requiring each app to transparently disclose what information it collects, how the data is used and who it is shared with would help attentive consumers, privacy advocates and federal authorities better understand how mobile software accesses and uses personal information.

The senator concluded by urging Apple and Google to, at a minimum, make privacy policies a strict requirement for all location aware applications, implying it would be more feasible to address his privacy concerns within a subset of all software offered through Apple and Google's app catalogs. After all, Franken's hearings followed a highly publicized bug in iOS that caused location data to be stored in an unencrypted file on the device. Apple fixed the bug in a recent software update.

Finally, Franken reminded Apple and Google of their commitments to protecting the privacy of their customers. "Apple and Google have each said time and again that they are committed to protecting users' privacy," Franken wrote. "This is an easy opportunity for your companies to put that commitment into action."

[via The Loop]

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