From The Sip Trunking Experts

TMCNet:  Senate panel to grill experts on smartphones' data collection

[May 09, 2011]

Senate panel to grill experts on smartphones' data collection

WASHINGTON, May 09, 2011 (Star Tribune (Minneapolis) - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- Today's mobile phones can double as a GPS, a restaurant finder, a video game system or a social media hub. Those technological leaps over the past few years have brought the world to users' fingertips, but at what cost? The same technology also can gather detailed data profiles of users to share with outside advertisers, transmitting a user's location, age, gender and even the phone's contacts back to cell phone companies and third parties _ all without the user's knowledge.

Sen. Al Franken and others in Congress, alarmed at revelations that phones store such data, have called for hearings to examine whether more privacy laws are needed. On Tuesday, representatives from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. will testify.

"The basic thing is really to protect people's right to know who's gathering what information about them," said Franken, chairman of the recently created Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, which is leading the hearings.

The information gathering creates a dilemma for application makers, since the most popular mobile programs need location and other data to function properly. Pinpoint location data is what allows cell phone users to find one another on FourSquare or locate a store or restaurant through Google Maps or Yelp.

"I definitely feel like it's a double-edged sword," said Nic Schlueter, co-founder of app-development company Chalk. "I don't know how to control it and allow consumers to have the flexibility and convenience they've come to rely on with smartphones." The mobile market is expanding rapidly. U.S. mobile ad revenue reached an estimated $550 to $650 million in 2010, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an online advertising trade association. A Morgan Stanley report found smartphone sales will outpace sales of desktop and laptop computers combined by 2012.

Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association for Competitive Technology, an e-commerce trade association, said the user data collection is not new. "The amount of data a single mobile app collects is tiny compared to what Safeway knows about you if you have a card," said Reed, whose organization will testify at Tuesday's hearing.

But Franken and privacy advocates say smartphones get more details than other methods of user data collection: Androids and iPhones have unique identifiers, and the location data they collect is richer because people typically carry their phones with them most of the time.

"All phones carry what's essentially a Social Security number," said Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology's Project on Consumer Privacy, who will testify Tuesday. "With location, they get precise information, which can be scary. You don't necessarily want dozens of companies tracking where you go." A Wall Street Journal article in December found that of 101 popular iPhone and Android apps, 56 transmitted the phone's unique ID to third parties without user consent while 47 transmitted the phone's location.

Franken declined to speculate on legislation he may propose after Tuesday's hearing, but he has hinted that apps' failure to disclose what user information is shared could be a ripe first target. "Certainly people just have the right to know what information is being shared about them," he said.

The Apple tracking controversy, coupled with a massive data breach by Sony's PlayStation Network last month, is putting Internet and mobile privacy in the spotlight and under the congressional microscope.

After reports that Apple was storing more than a year's worth of detailed data, the company issued a fix that cut storage time to only seven days. Apple also said its iPhones and iPads were not gathering exact location data.

William McGeveran, a University of Minnesota law professor specializing in the Internet and privacy, said the Apple incident is a wake-up call for people who didn't know what was happening.

"If you're an exceptionally private person, you're not checking in on FourSquare or tweeting up a storm," said McGeveran. "But you probably still are using your phone." Schlueter said app makers worry that Congress will pass laws that wind up stifling innovation. "As an app developer, I don't trust that Congress can keep up with the technology any better than common sense and morals are sort of doing that now," Schlueter said.

A first step, he said, might be to require user consent before sharing data.

"As consumers, we need to say to ourselves 'This is what I'm receiving in exchange for my information about where I am,' " Reed said. "Is it worth it? Most say yes, especially the under-40 set." ___ (c) 2011, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Visit the Star Tribune Web edition on the World Wide Web at Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]

Subscribe here for your FREE
SIP TRUNKING enewslettter.

Featured Partner

Featured Whitepapers

SIP Security for the Enterprise
Voice over IP (VoIP) is incorporated into a variety of computer networks, both public and private, and used for everyday transactions and communications among carriers, businesses, government agencies...

Making A Broadband Purchase Decision
Businesses today have many options for broadband connectivity. Clarifying your particular business needs prior to selecting a broadband provider will ensure an optimal match of broadband service to your requirements.

Voice-Optimized Network Delivers Premier Call Experience
Customers equate call quality with business quality. Real-time communication, interpersonal interaction, and the cordial tone of a call center representative can create a positive impression of your business that no email can match.

Featured Case Studies

Business Telecom Expenses Reduced 50%
A small to medium sized company in the midwest was interested in migrating to IP Communications, but in today's economy, they were hesitant to upgrade their communication system due to their perception that the cost would outweigh the benefits.

Multi-State Company Cuts Telecom Costs 50%
A multi-site, multi-state company with extensive monthly long distance fees and toll-free charges did not have adequate broadband for Broadvox SIP Trunking requirements, nor did they have a SIP enabled telephone system.

Discover Leisure Connects Remote Users to its IP-PBX
Discover Leisure is one of the largest resellers of caravans and motor homes in the UK. With 15 branch of?ces all over the country, the company spent a great deal of money every month just on internal phone calls.

Featured eBOOKS

Internet+: The Way Toward Global Unified Communication
Connecting the telephony of the enterprise PBX or Unified Communications (UC) system using SIP trunks instead of conventional telephone lines has been very successful in recent years.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 2
SIP trunking is becoming more of a focus for service providers. One key issue many service providers face when deploying SIP trunks is NAT, or Network Address Translation, traversal.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 1
A vast resource for information about all things SIP - including SIP, security, VoIP, SIP trunking and Unified Communications.

Featured Videos

Broadvox VAR Testimonial VAR 1:
Part 1 of the VAR (Value Added Reseller) Partner Program Testimonials for Broadvox...

E-SBCs AS The Demarcation Point:
Ingate's Steve Johnson talks to Erik Linask about the role session border controller plays as the demarcation point at...

Demystifying DPI
How can deep packet inspection protect your SIP traffic as well as your entire network?

Featured Resources

Partner Program Overview:
Over 4,000 VARs, Master Agents, Solution Providers, and Independent IT Professionals trust Broadvox. We offer customized services and solutions to fit seamlessly into any company's business model. And when you partner with Broadvox, every member of our team stands behind you and your customers 100%...

SIP Trunk UC Summit

What's New

Presenting the New Ingate/Intertex Website:
Internet+ is an extended Internet access allowing high quality SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) based real-time person-to-person communication, everywhere and for any application. It applies to both fixed and mobile networks ...

Featured Blogs

Featured Webinars

Secure SIP Trunking:
What You Need to Know

Successfully Deploying Enterprise SIP Trunking:
Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Common Roadblocks

Featured Podcasts

Getting the Most Out of Your SIP Trunks:
Ingate's Steve Johnson and TMC's Erik Linask discuss how best practices forgetting the most out of SIP Trunking services and common pitfalls to avoid.

Featured Datasheets

Ingate SIParator E-SBCs
Adopting SIP is a simple process with the Ingate SIParator, the secure enterprise session border controller (E-SBC). The SIParator makes secure SIP communications - including VoIP,SIP trunking and more - possible while working seamlessly with your existing network firewall.

Ingate Firewalls
Everyone is talking about enterprise usage of VoIP, instant messaging and other types of realtime communications including presence and conferencing.

SIP Trunk Solutions for Service Providers
The award-winning Ingate Firewall and Ingate SIParator deliver a high quality, reliable SIP trunk connection between the customer's IP-PBX and the service provider network, and solve interoperability issues to simplify deployments and support for remote diagnosis of reported issues.