US Congress requests data usage details from Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare

Investigation into inappropriate use of Apple's iOS data now includes dozens of social app developers

United States Congress has issued letters to dozens of social app developers requesting details of their data collection and usage, AllThingsD reports.

The Energy and Commerce Committee sent the letters as part of an investigation into the measures Apple is taking to protect the personal information of iOS users.

The 34 recipients include some of the biggest names in social media, including Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare. All recipients were selected on the basis of their inclusion in the "social networking" sub-category of the App Store's "iPhone Essentials" section.

"Following recent reports that apps could collect address book information and photos without notice and consent from users of Apple's mobile devices, the members are seeking to better understand what, if any, information these particular apps gather, what they do with it, and what notice they provide to app users," a statement on the committee's website reads.

"The members want the information to begin building a fact-based understanding of the privacy and security practices in the app marketplace."

The issue was first raised in February, when it was revealed that a data loophole in the iOS platform was allowing a number of social apps free access to users' address book information without the need for personal permission.

Apple responded to the committee's initial questions earlier this month, but there were lingering concerns over certain iOS apps accessing user's videos and photographs. The committee has issued a request for an Apple representative to address the issue in person.

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Latest comments (3)

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 5 years ago
Given that Facebook and others have been trying to claim peoples personal details and data as their own I can only see this blowing up in their faces. Already here in europe Google have fallen foul of trying to claim they have a right to do what they want with peoples data. The data protection laws here make it perfectly clear that they don't and they actually seemed suprised that they were being held up to the law.

People are getting pretty upset with these companies and their data policies and ultimately governments who want to win elections will be keen to be seen as doing something about it.

as the words of that song go Tick Tick Tick Tick BOOM

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Dwyer on 23rd March 2012 3:25pm

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Private Industry 5 years ago
Boom shake shake the room.

So much for the music interlude on :D

I would be more than surprised if that`s only an iOS issue as all of them have Android apps and I kind of doubt that those are safer and looking at the info off some apps it`s kind of disturbing what it says that it may access. As example the facebook Anroid app a few of the things it states not the full list.

This application can access the following on your phone:

Your personal information
read contact data, write contact data

Your location
fine (GPS) location

Your messages
edit SMS or MMS, read SMS or MMS, receive SMS

Phone calls
read phone state and identity

Who knows what those things really mean regarding of what the app is doing in the background that the user doesn`t notice. And there are apps on both stores that lets you look at your Achievements or Trophies, but they aren`t from MS or Sony so that must be a huge risk for your accounts if you use one of those.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 23rd March 2012 8:58pm

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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ5 years ago
Yeah, I'm finding it a bit uncomfortable that most apps you install these days ask you some vague permissions about having access to basically your entire life on your phone, and you either have to select to NOT install the app, or say "yes please, welcome to my most personal device and data, pillage at will."

I don't like it, and it seems a bit inevitable, if you want to play a lot of the social games on your smartphone, etc.

I'm glad to hear US Congress are investigating the area in general, as at least if someone's checking up on things, I guess that helps. A bit. :)

Indie Game Developer
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