By Sara Jerome - 04/24/11 02:34 PM EDT
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called for a congressional investigation into the privacy practices of leading technology companies in the aftermath of reports that smartphones quietly store detailed information about users' location.
Reports have centered on Android phones, which use a Google operating system, and Apple's iPhones, which collect location data and transmit it back to the companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Markey, co-chairman of the privacy caucus, said in a statement Saturday:
“Congress should immediately commence an investigation into this critical issue to help improve companies’ disclosure policies so consumers and families can understand who is seeing their information."
He promised to monitor the situation and to introduce children's privacy legislation with a "Do Not Track" requirement, allowing consumers to opt against being tracked.
Markey made it clear he thinks the data collection is potentially dangerous.
“'Do you know where your children are?' is a question that every parent should know the answer to. But predators shouldn’t be able to hack into an iPhone or Android to find out for themselves, with devastating consequences for families. Unprotected personal location information could be a treasure trove for troublemakers," Markey said.
"Apple needs to ensure that an iPhone doesn’t become an 'iTrack', and an iTrack doesn’t become an 'iTragedy,' especially for children and their families," he said.
A Google spokesman defended its practice to the WSJ: "We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices."
He added that "any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user."