Senate Panel Grills Apple, Google Over Cell Phone Privacy

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Apple, Google Execs Respond to Senate Privacy Questions

In the wake of the explosion of the smart phone market in recent years, representatives from the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission noted that the "always on, always with you" nature of smart phones is cause for concern when it comes to privacy issues.

"Companies should have privacy by design," said Jessica Rich of the FTC.

Another witness, Justin Brookman from the Center for Democracy & Technology, told senators that the popular music app Pandora makes users' age, gender, location and phone identifier available to advertisers.

The representatives from Apple and Google were also asked why they have thus far refused to remove apps that help drunk drivers evade police. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., recently asked Apple, Google and Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of Blackberry spartphones, to remove such applications, but only RIM has complied with the request.

Google's Davidson told Schumer that "it's a question that we're actively discussing internally."

"You agree it's a terrible thing?" asked Schumer.

"I agree that it's a bad thing," acknowledged Davidson.

While today's Judiciary subcommittee hearing did not focus on any specific pieces of legislation moving through Congress, there are currently a number of bills floating around Capitol Hill to address the issue of smart phone privacy.

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