Sen. Franken Leads Hearing On Phone Tracking

By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sen. Al Franken will lead a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday about protecting your privacy while using mobile devices like smart phones and tablets.

The issue has been a concern since word came out that many of the devices are tracking people’s moves and it has been raising eyebrows among consumers, cell phone providers and lawmakers.

Franken is spearheading the effort in Washington and created the new subcommittee to try and bring privacy laws up to date. He said a big concern for him is all of the people who don’t know that their personal information on their smart phone or through an app is being shared.

At the hearing, Congress will demand answers from both Apple and Google. A Senate panel will question executives about reports that iPhones and iPads with 3G and Android phones secretly track and store their users’ every move.

Sen. Al Franken At Senate Panel Hearing

Both companies are expected to defend themselves claiming the tracking devices are not meant to spy on customers, but instead, help them by providing directions to the nearest coffee shop or gas station.

In a letter released Monday, Apple said that, “consumers are increasingly demanding accurate location information from their handheld devices.”

Apple and Google insist they only record the locations of Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers and that tracking can be turned off.

Still, lawmakers are calling for new legislation to protect consumers — a move many experts say is long overdue.

“We have privacy laws for telephone communications, electronic mail messaging, but we really don’t have modern privacy laws to address some of these modern services and new technologies,” said Marc Rotenberg, the Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

An estimated 72.5 million Americans own smart phones, but it’s not just those devices that Congress is worried about. Lawmakers are also expected to raise questions about third party apps, like games, which can keep tabs on customers as well.

Manufacturers of the devices are expected to explain the kind of information that’s being collected and how it’s used. That will give consumers an idea of how much information they’re sharing.

Franken said with all of the advances in technology, we can stay connected like never before and we have access to amazing resources, but it’s also allowing our sensitive information to be shared.

More from Holly Wagner
  • hmm

    I am glad my phone tracks me. I could not care less if the phone company knows where I am. If I am in an accident laying in the ditch somewhere I want them to find me.

    If you are worried about the wife finding out about your affair just shut your phone off.

  • Matt

    hmm- I agree.

    I have nothing to hide – and I also find it best that when you have a criminal with a phone, he’s trackable. :) It helps in a lot of cases.

    Besides, they’ve been tracing phone calls for a LONG time.

  • Huey

    I agree, however, I think the phones and web sites shoud BOLDLY print notification to users that this is happening.

  • surroundedby idiots

    How come 25 years ago we didn’t need to have phones attached to our ears constantly and now we do. We are like a world of zombie cows. “they say we need this phone” ” oh, ok, then lets get one and lets get them for the kids and the grandparents and everyone we know and lets talk alllll the time even about useless junk that doesn’t matter’ ” AND, we can text all the time even while driving and we never ever ever have to pay any attention to anything” COOL! Cell phones are stupid and the people who rely on them are too!

    • Steve

      Nothing wrong with you calling everyone else an idiot. Go back to you room and hide from technology. Its to much for your little pea brain. IDIOT

    • Mr. Mark

      sounds like an old timer

  • surroundedby idiots

    Problem is, that the people doing the tracking are sometimes criminal themselves!

    • U R Misinformed

      HIGHLY Doubtful the criminals have that type of info or technology unless they are well versed in hacking, which your average criminal is too stupid to figure out!

    • K.

      I don’t have a cell phone (haven’t yet found the need for one yet) but I may get one in the near future. I agree that many people talking on phones while driving, etc. can be dangerous and people talking loudly on cell phones in restaurants can be rude to the other patrons. But, I wouldn’t say that cell phones are a waste of time or that people who use them are idiots. It’s like any other piece of new technology…….it is useful provided it’s used appropriately. Be careful about putting others down about using this technology when, in some cases, it could be extremely helpful and could be a life-saver.

  • StraycatStrut

    The real problem here is Al is SPEARHEADING this up. One wonders if he will stay awake thru the sessions. Could be another Big waste of time and taxpayers dollars on a possible worthy subject.

    • Paul

      Private corporations following your every move seems like a worthy subject to me.

      • Idiot

        Shut off your phone…

    • Matt

      EXACTLY, both of our senators are a joke, the extent of the legislation they have went after is useless, I’m an idiot and can’t protect mmyself, legislation. Vote then both out ASAP

  • Johanna Pinckaers

    This is exactly why I did not vote for him, he is wasting time on this “issue”. You can turn off the tracking if you would like, I honestly like the tracking it gives me fast and informed information on where I am, and where I would like or need to go. Plus, it helps emergency crews locate you faster.

    • ThothTheBuilder

      LMAO! Yeah! You can open the thing up, look inside and tell me how and why it works…right? Wrong! If you don’t know how it works then don’t try to tell me that you know what it does. You know it does what YOU want it to and that is all… I’m sure the good Senator didn’t miss your vote. After all, he did win.

      • Uh huh

        He probably DID miss her vote since he barely won and both Franken and Coleman were fighting for every vote. Don’t you remember what happened? Or do you have selective memory?

  • matt

    They will put a state law out banning driving and talking on the phone. Some other states already do!

    Then it will force automakers to include bluetooth technology – and increase the cost on vehicles.

  • M B

    I’m less concerned with companies tracking us than I am our own government. A western high court has ruled (almost a year ago) that the government (FBI) can track us legally without a warrant. Keep a car in your driveway? They’ve ruled that unless you’re rich enough to create a gated and fenced yard, you have no expectation of privacy on your own land and the FBI can legally trespass and place a tracker on your vehicle. Wow. I think our congress people have better things to aim at than smartphones.,8599,2013150,00.html

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