Your Smartphone is Watching You, and the Government Isn’t Pleased

Critics say that tracking users’ movements is TMI.

Posted: 04/27/2011 11:43 AM EDT

(Photo: Carmine Galasso/Landov)

Do you know that your iPhone and iPad tracks and stores your movements? Apparently, Google does, too. Blacks and Latinos are most vulnerable to such Big Brother–style tactics, according to a recent Nielsen report. It found that African-Americans average more than 1,300 minutes of talk time a month, followed by Latinos, who talk on average of 826 minutes a month. Whites use approximately 647 minutes monthly. Blacks and Latinos also text more, sending and receiving an average of 780 and 767 SMS messages per month, compared to whites at 566 texts.


Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) believes that your location when using your smartphone is nobody’s business but your own. He’s scheduled a May 10 hearing on Capitol Hill to explore mobile privacy issues and get answers from executives from Apple and Google, as well as officials from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.


“Recent advances in mobile technology have allowed Americans to stay connected like never before and put an astonishing number of resources at our fingertips,” said Franken in a statement posted on his Website. “But the same technology that has given us smartphones, tablets and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location. This hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers’ privacy—particularly when it comes to mobile devices—keep pace with advances in technology.


Meanwhile, Apple is facing a lawsuit over the tracking, PC Magazine reports. The two plaintiffs want the company to disable the tracking feature in the next release of its products. The devices, they say, gather information that even a person’s spouse or employer would know.