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Apple, Google Head to Congress to Discuss Privacy Issues

In the wake of last month’s revelation that Apple and Google both allegedly track their respective smartphone users’ locations, lawmakers want an explanation. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is already investigating whether Google’s search dominance should be an area of concern, but tomorrow, Google — and Apple — has to answer questions from a congressional panel headed by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn).

Franken is chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, which, according to AppleInsider, will be host to the likes of Guy L. “Bud” Tribble, Apple’s VP of software technology. 

The first hearing, titled “Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell phones and your Privacy,” will begin at 10 a.m. and will deal with issues that came to light when it was discovered that Apple collects location data from unwitting iPhone and iPad users in order to better target ads. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs denied the allegations. 

In South Korea, similar concerns over Google’s Android mobile operating system resulted in the company’s Seoul office receiving an unexpected visit from the police. Google’s director of public policy for the Americas, Alan Davidson, will also be joining Tribble at tomorrow’s hearing.

It is worth noting that tomorrow’s hearing is merely an information-gathering session for lawmakers. No formal complain or investigation has been launched. According to Reuters, Franken has been concerned that insurance companies have been eyeing location tracking as a way to determine rates depending on where their customers go.

Three separate online privacy laws have already been introduced in Congress, but it’s too early to tell which, if any, of them will become law.

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