Al Franken Takes a Bite Out of Apple

Senator raises concerns about iPhone's location tracking in letter to company

Lately, it seems, any company that gets itself mired in controversy related to its consumers' privacy online can expect congressional scrutiny—especially when the controversy involves a juicy target like Google, Facebook, or Apple.

That rule proved true once again on Wednesday, in the wake of a recent discovery that iPhones and iPads have been tracking, and saving, data about where their users go. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., moving once again to stake out his new territory on online and mobile privacy issues, sent a letter to Apple's Steve Jobs about the issue. 

"The existence of this information—stored in an unencrypted format—raises serious privacy concerns," Franken wrote. "Anyone who finds a lost or stolen iPhone or IPad or who has access to any computer used to sync one of these devices could easily download and map out a customer's precise movements for months at a time."

Franken also asked Apple to answer nine questions about the GPS capability of its mobile operating system, including what it intends to do with the information and why it is not encrypted.

Franken chairs the Senate's new Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law.

UPDATE: Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., co-chairman of the House bi-partisan Privacy Caucus, piled on with his own letter and list of questions to Jobs. "Is it iPhone or iTrack?" Markey quipped. "Apple needs to safeguard the personal location information to ensure that an iPhone doesn't become an iTrack," he wrote.