Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) sent a letter to the chief executives of Apple and Google asking that their companies require app makers to have clear, understandable privacy policies.

Franken wrote that this move would be “a simple first step” to give users and others basic information about what an app can access and share.

At the very least, Franken said, there should be privacy policies for any location-aware applications that specify exactly what information is collected, how it’s collected and with whom the data are shared.

“Apple and Google have each said time and again that they are committed to protecting users’ privacy,” Franken wrote. “This is an easy opportunity for your companies to put that commitment into action.”

Franken, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary privacy committee, asked Apple software chief Bud Tribble and Google’s American head of public policy, Alan Davidson, to consider this request at a hearing last month.

Neither company gave a direct response. Davidson said he would take the question to Google . Tribble said that he believes privacy must be built into apps to be truly effective, as many people do not read privacy policies.

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