Senator Asks the FTC to Investigate Apple, Android
After reports that applications on both the Apple and Android phones were stealing photographs and posting them online without user consent, and uploading entire address books in violation of the terms of service, Schumer asked the FTC to investigate the latest rumor and how Apple and Android are monitoring and enforcing their terms of service. From the Reuters article:
The lawmaker said it was his understanding that many of these uses violate the terms of service of the Apple and Android platforms. He said "it is not clear whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored".
As a result, he said, "smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user's personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public".
The New York Times reported earlier in the month that applications on Apple's iPhone can steal photographs and post them to the web without user permission if a user has granted the application access to their location information. The NYTimes then commissioned an application developer to try the same thing on Android devices:
It turns out that Google, maker of the Android mobile operating system, takes it one step further. Android apps do not need permission to get a user’s photos, and as long as an app has the right to go to the Internet, it can copy those photos to a remote server without any notice, according to developers and mobile security experts. It is not clear whether any apps that are available for Android devices are actually doing this.
Crowdsourcing applications allows for incredible levels of innovation but also starts a cat and mouse game where developers - either for nefarious reasons or because they are just trying to build a great app - will push the boundaries of what can be done and the infrastructure provider will need to enforce the rules.