back to article FTC urged to probe Apple, Google for enabling ‘intense system of surveillance’

Democrat lawmakers want the FTC to investigate Apple and Google's online ad trackers, which they say amount to unfair and deceptive business practices and pose a privacy and security risk to people using the tech giants' mobile devices. US Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and House …

  1. heyrick Silver badge

    they have been silent on what, if anything, they will change in their data privacy policies

    Given that some neanderthals want to make having an abortion a capital offense, they're probably quietly shitting themselves over how it is possible to have an analytics business without running the risk of being the smoking gun that ends up getting women murdered in the name of "justice".

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      [...] they're probably quietly shitting themselves over how it is possible to have an analytics business without running the risk of being the smoking gun that ends up getting women murdered in the name of "justice".

      No, they're not.

      If they're making money, they're not shitting anything. And besides, those self-same Neanderthals will quite likely mount an effective "four-corners" type defense of delay, obfuscation and legal (not to mention moral) shenanigans to insure those info brokers can stay in business profitably.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      into the frying pan

      There are really two motivational threads in the ongoing push against Google/Apple monitoring of personal information. One is absolute opposition to the monitoring of personal information. The other is against Google/Apple monopolizing the monitoring of personal information.

      Google/Apple are going to worry about their perceived image - to the extent it could effect their business at least. There are plenty of other players without such broad name recognition who will only see this as a welcome business/political opportunity with no qualms whatsoever.

  2. JDPower666 Bronze badge

    I am totally against this absurd abortion ban, and the amount of tracking by Google etc, but if a law is broken it should be followed up like any other law, the suggestion appears to be this law should have barriers placed in the way of carrying it out. The issue is not the abortion ban but the invasive tracking and law enforcement's use of that, and I suspect that won't be addressed. What will probably happen is the tech companies will decide to obscure and/or not hand over any data gathered near abortion clinic locations. And then we are going down a track of tech companies having an undue influence on what laws are prosecutable and which are not. Do we really want the same companies that track us every hour of every day deciding what law breakers they will provide evidence against and which ones they will protect?

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      If you are worried about location info, you need to be talking to cellular providers not Apple and Google. They are openly selling location info from phones on their networks to pretty much anyone who wants it, whether governmental body or not without asking any questions about what it will be used for.

      1. ratcatcher67

        BT here in the UK had a similar system where they read the contents of every SMS sent across their network.

        1. X5-332960073452
          Stop

          Yep, they have Phorm for that

      2. Falmari Silver badge

        @DS999 If all they are going to do is talk then sure, include the cellular providers and many others, data sellers, data aggregators etc, along with Apple and Google.

        But sod talking, bring in some privacy laws. What would solve a lot of those lawmaker’s concerns would be to make it illegal for companies to sell, sell access to or sell services built from their customer/user data. Also make it illegal to buy, buy access to or buy services built from said data.

        Making buying and selling illegal and enforcing the laws would also limit access to law enforcement with warrants. Because if companies can’t monetarise their customer/user data there is little incentive to collect and store the data.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Easy to guess

    "Security of our customers is our priority blah blah blah... Privacy of our customers is our first concern blah blah blah... Any attempt to force us to make these two statements real is detrimental to innovation blah blah blah"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is this article about abortion?

    Seems like indiscriminate tracking and selling of private information is enough of a problem without having to tie a hot-button issue into it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is this article about abortion?

      maybe now it "matters" to the younger generations who previously didn't give a rat's ass that Google, Apple, Facebork, et al, were making a mountain of cash from selling (or at least harvesting) every bit of data they could find. So long as they got their "free" stuff, they were happy. But now, all that data harvesting has the potential to impact their day-to-day lives in ways that "matter" to them, so it's an "Issue of Importance of The Day". At least until Google, Apple, etc, smooth things over by grandstanding and promising to make changes to minimize the problem, then it's back to head-in-the-sand watching cat videos and posting pics of lunch.

    2. badflorist

      Re: Why is this article about abortion?

      The answer seems like politicians only care if money is tied to their own pockets, otherwise it's a greedy capitalistic feeding frenzy on the personal lives of citizens.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Why is this article about abortion?

      Because when it is about "nebulous random whatever", a lot of people don't care enough to make any sort of fuss. Many many people are happy to trade Free Stuff! for some analytics, because using words like that makes it sound like some nerdy stuff and besides, it's not as if this crap actually makes any difference to them, right?

      But now that there's a real world visible application where this unnecessary and unwarranted [*] data collection can be used against people because "topic that is causing people to freak out", the whole process of illicit user tracking and who can access that information is much more visible.

      And people aren't liking what they're seeing (surprise!).

      * - I don't count a footnote at the end of fifty pages of impenetrable legalese as "consent". Luckily I live in a jurisdiction where they don't either, though practical application and enforcement varies greatly...

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