John Paczkowski

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Congress to Apple: One More Thing …

Looks like Congress isn’t quite through scrutinizing Apple’s consumer privacy protections.

The Energy and Commerce Committee today sent a letter to CEO Tim Cook asking that he send a company representative to Washington to formally brief it on just how it is protecting the personal information of mobile device users.

While Apple did address a number of the committee’s questions in a March 2 response to its first inquiry, new concerns have since arisen. Specifically, a loophole in Apple’s iOS operating systems that may be allowing some apps to access consumers’ photos and videos and associated location data without permission.

Apple will presumably address this issue in the same way it pledged to correct the address book data loophole that inspired this whole debacle in the first place: With a software update.

But somebody from Apple is still going to have to make a trip to Washington.

The committee’s letter in full below.

Mr. Tim Cook
Chief Executive Officer, Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Mr. Cook:

We have received and reviewed the reply of Apple Inc., to our February 15, 2012, letter requesting information about your company’s app developer policies and practices to protect the privacy and security of your mobile device users’ information. We thank you for responding to our letter.

The March 2 reply we received from Apple does not answer a number of the questions we raised about the company’s efforts to protect the privacy and security of its mobile device users. In addition, subsequent to our letter, concerns have been raised about the manner in which apps can access photographs on your mobile devices and tools provided by Apple to consumers to prevent unwanted online tracking.[1] To help us understand these issues, we request that you make available representatives to brief our staff on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact Felipe Mendoza with the Energy and Commerce Committee staff at 202-226-3400.


Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Member

G.K. Butterfield
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus