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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 11:33 AM ET, 02/15/2012

Lawmakers question Apple CEO Cook about privacy


Apple CEO Tim Cook (Getty Images)
Federal lawmakers on Wednesday questioned Apple’s privacy practices, asking CEO Tim Cook if the company does enough to protect user information on iPhones.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) sent a letter on Wednesday to Cook asking if Apple’s policies ensure developers can’t share or collect user data — such as iPhone contact lists — without permission.

The concern comes after Path, an online diary, said it collected and stored users’ iPhone contact lists without explicitly asking for permission to do so. When launching the app, Path automatically uploaded contact data in order to “find friends” to connect to on the social networking app.

Twitter has also admitted it collects and stores users’ contact lists from devices without specific permission, according to this story by the Los Angeles Times.

The lawmakers say the practice “raises questions about whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices may fall short when it comes to protecting the information of iPhone users and their contacts.”

Waxman and Butterfield, ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Cook how many apps grab information from users’ iPhone contact lists and whether the apps ask for permission from users to access that data. They asked for Cook to answer by Feb. 29 how Apple vets app developers and their use of data from devices.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Related:

Beware of privacy policies, how to clean up your digital footprint

Google privacy shift to have bigger affect on Android users, Experts say

Google announces sweeping privacy changes

By  |  11:33 AM ET, 02/15/2012

 
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