US senator asks FTC to investigate Apple, Google
Schumer calls on the agency to investigate mobile apps that access photos
TechLife | 06 Mar 2012 :
Apple and Google could find themselves under investigation by the US' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allowing applications on their mobile OSs to access users' photographs without permission.
The practice came under fire from Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, who said that for Android and iOS apps to "steal" users' photos was a "disturbing and potentially unfair practice".
"When someone takes a private photo, on a private cell phone, it should remain just that: private," Schumer said. "Smartphone developers have an obligation to protect the private content of their users and not allow them to be veritable treasure troves of private, personal information that can then be uploaded and distributed without the consumer's consent."
IN a letter to the FTC, Schumer outlined his concerns further: "It is not clear whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored, In fact, the abuses of apps have only come to light as a result of the work of intrepid independent researchers and technologists. As a result, it is users and their privacy who [sic] suffer."
Google said it is reviewing its policy on apps and photos. The company designed the Android photo file system similar to the ones in Windows and Mac OS X, and images were stored on SD (Secure Digital) cards, allowing users to remove the cards and transfer pictures to another device.
"As phones and tablets have evolved to rely more on built-in, non-removable memory, we're taking another look at this and considering adding a permission for apps to access images," Google said in a statement. "We've always had policies in place to remove any apps on Android Market that improperly access personal data."