US senator calls for Apple and Google investigation

A US senator has asked the  FTC to investigate claims that Apple and Google mobile apps have been stealing private photos and contacts and posting them online without consent.

Democrat Charles Schumer’s request comes after iPhone maker Apple tweaked its privacy policies after it had a few angry senators on the blower demanding changes.

Schumer said he was concerned about a New York Times report that iPhone and Android applications could access a user’s private photo collection.

This follows the news last month that applications on devices such as the iPhone and iPad were able to upload entire address books with names, telephone numbers and email addresses to their own servers.

In his letter to the FTC, which was published by Reuters, he said that these uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app’s functionality.

While stealing snaps violates the terms of service of the Apple and Android platforms, it is not clear whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored.

Schumer said that 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 he or she did not consciously decide to make public.