Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

US Congress Probes iOS App Developers On Privacy

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the they're-looking-for-tips dept.

Government 52

hypnosec writes with the arguably welcome news that "[The U.S.] Congress is gathering further information on iOS developers and how they deal with and implement privacy policies. The Next Web got hold of a letter from Congress which had been sent out to Tapbots, along with some 32 other iOS developers, including both Twitter and Facebook, and the devs of Path, SoundCloud, Foodspotting and Turntable.fm. The apps were picked because they come under the social networking umbrella in the 'essentials' area of the App Store. The letter begins: 'We are writing to you because we want to better understand the information collection and use policies and practices of apps for Apple's mobile devices with a social element.' What follows is a series of eight questions designed to gather more details regarding the popularity of the app in question, and the privacy policy to which it holds (and how it's made known to users)."

cancel ×

52 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

If I got a letter (4, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464463)

If I got a letter like that, I'd tell the government that as long as they support the actions of groups like the TSA, they have no business at all asking anyone else about their privacy policies or trying legislate privacy rights. They probably won't like being told to pound sand, or having the truth thrown in their faces, but those assholes deserve it.

Re:If I got a letter (2)

mlow82 (889294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464531)

Just because the government may have questionable privacy policies, doesn't mean that app developers shouldn't be held to the same standards. I want BOTH developers and the TSA to respect my privacy.

Re:If I got a letter (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39468129)

Just because the government may have questionable privacy policies, doesn't mean that app developers shouldn't be held to the same standards.

I think what you wrote might not be what you actually meant. At least I hope so :-)

Re:If I got a letter (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464625)

Well iOS apps are typically not flown in buildings killing people.

Re:If I got a letter (1, Flamebait)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464707)

Nor are most planes. Does the TSA security theater actually make you safer? In which case, should it not be sufficient that Apple has a screening process to make you safe from privacy concerns? They are the TSA of the App Store.

Re:If I got a letter (3, Insightful)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464761)

Since no one has flown a plane into a building under their watch it's hard to say that they are ineffective, for all we know it's possible that they have stopped several such attempts. There are other reasons why TSA is a bit suboptimal. We can't prove that they make us safer, we can only disprove it once they don't.

Re:If I got a letter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464925)

Actually its very easy to prove and we already know the answer.

How many weapons-wielding terrorists have they stopped to date? A: Zero.

Re:If I got a letter (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465307)

Obviously the TSA's fearsome reputation is acting as a deterrent.

Want to buy some elephant powder?

Re:If I got a letter (2)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465077)

Since no one has flown a plane into a building under their watch it's hard to say that they are ineffective

Correlation does not equal causation. For instance, do you know what else we've improved since then? Cockpit security. And we have increased civilian awareness about the dangers of successful plane hijackings.

Besides, none of this is an excuse to violate people's privacy.

Re:If I got a letter (0)

Weatherlawyer (2596357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465211)

Since no one has flown a plane into a building under their watch it's hard to say that they are ineffective

Correlation does not equal causation. For instance, do you know what else we've improved since then? Cockpit security. And we have increased civilian awareness about the dangers of successful plane hijackings.

Besides, none of this is an excuse to violate people's privacy.

What is the Greek story about a bloke rolling a stone uphill all day only to lose it at night? This thread reminds me of that. You have a national security branch set up to look intothe secret private lives of all politicians and scientists etc, run by a nancy boy, and they only succeeded in hounding Oppenheimer. They missed the plot to kill JFK and the advice about 9/11. Yet it is still the #1 US secret police farce. Any number of corrupt an intrusive firms have been invited into the American administration of the Internet and given free rein. Why should the rest of the world expect things to change? Take a look at this: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/02/the-civil-war-part-1-the-places/100241/ [theatlantic.com] Scroll right arrow to #12. For all the Arab Springs and the Occupy Wall Streets... Nothing ever changes.

Re:If I got a letter (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465663)

Correlation does not equal causation. For instance, do you know what else we've improved since then? Cockpit security. And we have increased civilian awareness about the dangers of successful plane hijackings.

This! It's why we've not seen a repeat of planes being used as missiles. Prior to 9/11, in America when hijacked it seemed best to simply behave and hope to be released when the plane lands wherever it'll end up. On realising that terrorists are on suicide runs, passengers have become far more likely to risk tackling them, and the security of cockpit doors makes it far more difficult anyway to grab the controls. We need a proper and impartial study of TSA policy to separate the useful from the pointless. We need to examine everything they do, and ask the following questions.

1) Is doing x effective in either interrupting attacks or by deterring them? If having me take off my shoes actually has some use outside of absolutely fringe cases, then do it. Does intelligence suggest that restricting liquids and having us remove our shoes has had an appreciable impact on terrorists? Economically, does this security theatre make passengers feel safer, thus making them more likely to travel?

2) Is it worth the inconvenience and intrusions in to privacy? We can never have 100% security, even if all passengers were strip searched and background checked before being allowed to board. Everything done is about trade-offs and level of risk aversion. How far are we willing to go, and how many rights being taken away, before we say "fuck it" and just go with something workable but not as secure? Acceptance of the DHS seems akin to appointing a Caesar to ensure that we all sleep safely at night, the price be damned. I'm particularly skeptical when I see the DHS sprawling over in to areas that have fuck all to do with the original reason the agency was created. It's as if the National Guard were to be given jurisdiction over parking violations, tackling the problem with the tools originally provided for tackling military attacks. In the UK we've actually seen something similar in how anti-terror legislation has been used by local councils for pursuing people for leaving their bins out on the wrong days. The extradition treaty too is a nice example of something put in to place ostensibly to tackle serious crimes, such as terrorism, being used for white collar stuff that should have either been brought as charges in the UK, or America being politely told to take a hike. If it's not a crime in the UK, or the DPP decides it has insufficient evidence to prosecute in British courts, then don't extradite.

Look as well at the situation at UC Davis where rentacops used pepper spray to discomfit peaceful protestors. Pepper spray and similar are used to tackled people where there's a serious risk of violence - not as a convenient way to shift a bunch of people seated peacefully in protest.

Quit trying to play smart idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466395)

You're not good at it. Especially your utilizing the overused phrase 'correlation does not equal causation'! That's merely further proof that's indicative of your inability to creatively think in any type of original fashion and to merely spit back the thoughts and words of others. Only dolts do that, which proves you are indeed, a dimwitted dolt.

Re:If I got a letter (1)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39468011)

Insightfull?
If they had, they would gloat about it as they always do. Fact is, it is impossible to tell if it is the TSA - or a combination of them. DHS, non-govt, ACTUAL law enforcement, or the terrorists not targeting planes in that fashion anymore. It is easy, given their record however, to doubt the TSA playing a big role in it. Not to mention, you could look at all the time BEFORE the TSA, BEFORE 9-11 where we went without a 9-11, and look at your point, and go "so what?

Re:If I got a letter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464915)

those assholes

Thanks. I'm sure noone was thinking that with a headline that includes probing...

Re:If I got a letter (2)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466087)

Yeah, I definitely think the best course of action is to refuse to help somebody who is going to pass laws of importance to you, all but guaranteeing a suboptimal-at-best law. "YOU'RE NOT PERFECT, STOP TRYING TO BE BETTER!" is a fantastic rallying cry.

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Man that sounds like fun (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464467)

Nothing like a government probe in your i

Re:Man that sounds like fun (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464681)

Exactly.

Why all the drama? For Apple users, being bent over and probed is a lifestyle choice.

Congress probes iOS app developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464471)

Finally, they've realized making the entire US population bend over is highly inefficient.

Government regulated apps. (2)

SpaceCadetTrav (641261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464473)

What could go wrong?

Re:Government regulated apps. (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464685)

Nothing, if the regulation is simply making sure that they have reasonable, human-readable privacy policies.

Stop drinking the all-regulation-is-evil koolaid. Haven't you ever noticed that the same people pushing it are the ones who make billions by abusing unregulated markets?

Re:Government regulated apps. (2, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465669)

Stop drinking the all-regulation-is-good koolaid. Haven't you ever noticed that the same people pushing it are the ones who make billions by abusing "regulated" markets?

Re:Government regulated apps. (1)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39470713)

just because a policy exists and is human readable does not mean it is actually honored and implemented. trust in the developer is at least as important.

I can neither confirm nor deny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464479)

... the existence of any such data collection or privacy violation

If Iphone users cared about their privacy (2)

MadMaverick9 (1470565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464491)

this comment says it all ....

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2743843&cid=39459975 [slashdot.org]

Where gonna go? Android? (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465053)

If Iphone users cared about their privacy

Any MOBILE user who cared about privacy would buy an iPhone

Because then the Apple sandbox mostly protects you (fully after the next iOS update which adds permission around the address book).

With Android any old thing that comes down the pike can rape you, privacy wise, and drain your battery for extra good measure to send off your treasured data.

Re:Where gonna go? Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465269)

Android should really steal^Wcopy this Apple sandbox/permission system indeed.

Re:Where gonna go? Android? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465291)

Any MOBILE user who cared about privacy would buy an iPhone

You spelled "Blackberry" wrong.

Because then the Apple sandbox mostly protects you

Uh, ok I'll just ignore the problems with that assumption and just point out that a very large number of iPhone users have rooted their devices, which means your precious sandbox isn't doing jack shit.

With Android any old thing that comes down the pike can rape you, privacy wise

First, that's not correct. Second, that's not how it works. Third, if you don't like the way the stock OS your phone company provided then you can go put a custom ROM on it which addresses all those issues.

Seriously Kendall, out of all the phones to get if you're worried about privacy, the iPhone is the last one on the list. Except maybe a WinDoze phone... but I don't know anybody dumb enough to use those things in the first place.

Re:Where gonna go? Android? (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39471177)

Actually, Windows Phone has permissioning much like Android. You need permission to access the internet, the camera, the address book, location services. It's really not as bad as you Anti-"M$" fanbois like to claim.

Re:Where gonna go? Android? (2)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#39471165)

The Apple sandbox that can be defeated by a fucking web page rooting the device.

No thanks. (And I do in fact own an iPhone by the way, and I do happen to like it. I'm simply not deluded into thinking it magically protects me from those "evil nasties" that Android has).

Arkell v. Pressdram (4, Interesting)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464493)

To what degree do developers of iOS applications have any obligation whatsoever to fill this form out and return it? What happens if you simply give them the same response given in Arkell v. Pressdram [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Arkell v. Pressdram (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464595)

Not all IOS App devs are under US jurisdiction (officially at least). If Congress wants those devs to actually care they should convince Apple to convince them.

Re:Arkell v. Pressdram (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464633)

Doesn't really matter. You are supposed to follow the laws and regulations in all countries where your app can be used. That's why responsible developers restrict their app to only work in their own country.

Re:Arkell v. Pressdram (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464819)

ORLY?

So, if you're an US based developer, you'd better limit your stuff to work only in your state, because who knows what wacky legislature it might break in other states, right?

Re:Arkell v. Pressdram (1)

sam31415 (558641) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464615)

They have no obligation at all; the letters [house.gov] are requests. However... if they don't reply, the committee will likely assume the worst about their privacy practices. It's probably in the developers' collective best interests to convince Congress that some amount of self-regulation is occurring. (The last question is even "(9) Please list all industry self-regulatory organizations to which you belong.")

Its better not to piss off those who can ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464711)

To what degree do developers of iOS applications have any obligation whatsoever to fill this form out and return it? What happens if you simply give them the same response given in Arkell v. Pressdram?

Its better not to piss off those who can write the legislation that can screw up your business or industry. Its better for them to view you as cooperative and reasonable. That way when legislation is proposed that affects your business or industry you can speak with them from a more favorable position. If you had previously been cooperative and reasonable then your opinion will have more weight. This doesn't guarantee things will ultimately go your way but the odds of a good outcome are better when starting the relationship in a friendly manner than in the F U manner.

Re:Its better not to piss off those who can ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466097)

Read this letter as a demand for Election Funds, attached is a list of PACs you should may donate tom under pain of a Kangaroo court subpoena should you dare to ignore us.

Lobbying can work (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464497)

A little back-channel grease will slick the skids for your competition. Google's having these troubles too, both in the US and in China. It's just stalling though and will come to nothing.

You see, even if you have the entire government in your pocket you still have to come out with a desirable product.

Re:Lobbying can work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464723)

even if you have the entire government in your pocket you still have to come out with a desirable product.

TSA scanners are desirable? Voting machines are desirable?

Re:Lobbying can work (-1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464769)

Of course the TSA scanners and body searches are desirable. Just ask the LGBT. They'll be quick to inform you that everyone wants to be probed, and anyone who says differently is a probophobe.

Re:Lobbying can work (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464779)

Grand slam!

Please dimwit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39466411)

Spare us your attempts at being 'clever': You're not, so get over it.

You are the customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464559)

You are the customer and your data is the product.

Whatever happened to that CarrierIQ thing? You know the spyware app that they could send a profile to and record all manner of things right down to how you use each app where, when that we only found out about when HTC accidentally left the logging feature on, and it became clear what a piece of snooping spyware it was.

You see how we keep getting hit with privacy scandal after scandal and its numbing us to it. Do you remember the school that could (and did) have software on its laptops that could video and record students in their homes? no?

Facebook grabs your phones contacts details and sends them off to Facebook's servers FFS, you'd expect FBI raids into their offices instead you get a sort of whimpy 'we'll ask them about it'.

What next privacy scandal will hit to knock the current one off the agenda?

Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464667)

I am violating my customers privacy rights slightly less than the american goverment and politicians are violating the peoples rights.

And then send them the same form to fill out. :)

and the privacy policy (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39464703)

to which it holds...

You guys!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39464739)

You are missing the point of this exercise entirely, they are not asking all these questions because they want to come down on Devs.
No, on the contrary, they want to learn your tricks!!
I mean look at it this way, every single move gov makes gets raised eyebrows from people now. Everything they do seems peculiar.
Meanwhile Devs continuously create apps that are mundane and thousands of sheeple download and willingly give up their privacy just to get it free!
Heck, maybe Gov has finally figured out they could learn from the Devs and dangle carrots to the sheeple to willingly give up more rights without even caring at all.

Business - the game (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465067)

/=/=/=/=/=/=/C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S\=\=\=\=\=\=\

Congress has noticed you exist. Lose one turn.

Re:Business - the game (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465233)

No Kidding -

I have been idly itching to make a couple of versions of Business The Game. One would be in conjunction with Wizards of the Coast using MTG type play. Or Monopoly. You know, it's all the same themes, but they were so harmless on the first go around (the 1980's). By now they built the Hotel on Copyright Place, so each successive power grab at a bill is much nastier.

I can already see the sets - the 9-11 Security Theater set, the Copyright set, the Defend the Kiddies set, the Patent Lawsuit set, and more.

It's only down to whether free speech is alive enough to let that happen or whether some junk libel/slander lawsuit takes it down.

Seriously, using a Combo Approach to current news every seventh article or so, is leading to scary results.

Ah, must be an election year or (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39465101)

politicians want to make sure their own private data does not become public.

Powers of Congress?! (1)

Ragetech (97458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465235)

Where does it say in the constitution that congress is responsible for being a consumer or even privacy watchdog? Isn't that the responsibility of the FTC Bereau of Consumer Protection, CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), the newly created Department of Consumer Protection or the CPSC (Consumer Protection Safety Commission)? See below for links.. these are separate organizations of government.

I think the congressional hearings are far, far too used. I watch as ignorant senators call up Goldman Sachs or Toyota and grill them on practices and safety. Meanwhile, they can't pass a budget for the bloated, ignorant government to run on. Senators act like royalty, yet they're the ones trading on insider information and often the ones who caused the problem with restrictive laws or regulations in the first place.

The gut instinct of all of us, when we see an article like this,l is to say, "My privacy is important!" and to be a little thankful for the government to be the oversight when we feel powerless, *yet* its the government who is tapping out phones, e-mails and electronic communication illegally. Am I the only one who recognizes how bad things have become??!

-- Ragetech

Links:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm [ftc.gov] - FTC
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ [consumerfinance.gov] - CFPB
http://www.ct.gov/DCP/site/default.asp [ct.gov] - Department of Consumer Protection
http://www.cpsc.gov/ [cpsc.gov] - CPSC

Tell you what (1)

realinvalidname (529939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39465539)

As soon as Congress balances the budget and brings the troops home, then we'll talk about micro-managing mobile app developers.

Is it Congress, or the request itself? (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39466655)

Would all these criticisms disappear if the request had come from the Federal Trade Commission? Somehow I suspect that the government-hating contingent on Slashdot would make the same arguments about any requests by a Federal agency.

I don't trust app developers or anyone else whose profits derive from using my personal information. That's why I don't have accounts on Facebook or Twitter.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?