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Franken to hold hearing on mobile device privacy; asks Apple, Google execs to testify

Executives from Apple and Google have been invited to testify, though neither company has confirmed they’ll be represented as yet.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken will hold his first Senate hearing on privacy concerns in mobile devices, following the public revelation that smartphones, including the popular iPhone and those running on Google’s Android system, have been tracking detailed location histories and storing them in unencrypted formats.

The hearing will be held here on May 10, at 9 a.m. CDT.

“Recent advances in mobile technology have allowed Americans to stay connected like never before and put an astonishing number of resources at our fingertips,” Franken said in a statement announcing the hearing. “But the same technology that has given us smartphones, tablets, and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location. This hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers’ privacy — particularly when it comes to mobile devices — keep pace with advances in technology.”

In a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs last week, Franken said the information collection and storage “raises serious privacy concerns.” Executives from Apple and Google have been invited to testify, though none have confirmed as yet. Officials with Franken’s office confirmed that representatives from the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will be in attendance. 

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A small sidebar for Franken himself: This is the first hearing for Franken’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, and while he has chaired Judiciary hearings before, this is the first one where speakers will address Minnesota’s junior senator as “Mr. Chairman” in his own subcommittee.