Apple software chief to testify at Senate privacy hearing

Apple will send its software head, Guy “Bud” Tribble to answer questions about the company’s data collection practices at a Senate hearing on mobile privacy next week. Alan Davidson, Google’s public policy director for the Americas, will testify about the company’s Android platform.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) invited representatives from the two companies, which produce the country’s largest cellphone operating systems, to testify late last month. Franken called the hearing after asking both companies to provide more information on their location data practices. On April 20, researchers reported that a file on the iPhone stores time-stamped location data. The news set off a flurry of concern over how mobile devices store location data.

It will be the first hearing for the new Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, which was formed in February.

Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, the lobbying group for application makers, is also scheduled to testify.

Privacy expert Justin Brookman and programmer Ashkan Soltani were confirmed as witnesses last month. Bureau of Consumer Protection deputy director Jessica Rich will represent the Federal Trade Commission, and deputy attorney general Jason Weinstein will speak for the Justice Department.

This week, Apple released an update to fix a bug in its operating system that stored up to a year of time-stamped data from a crowd-sourced location database on the devices. The company said it only culls location data from customers who have specifically agreed to have their data collected.

Google has said that it only collects location data from customers who have authorized the practice. This data cannot be traced to individual users.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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