DoJ wants more wireless location tracking

Al Franken grills Apple, Google about location snooping, while Department of Justice wants to require it.

In a stunning example of the left hand of government not knowing what the right hand is doing, a representative from the U.S. Department of Justice reminded a Senate subcommittee today that his agency wants to require wireless carriers to keep records of users' location and web sites they access on their smartphones.

"When this information is not stored, it may be impossible for law enforcement to collect essential evidence," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., isn't buying any of it. Franken called the hearing, he said, to discuss the right of mobile users to know "who has their information and what they're doing with it."

Franken fans from the Jurassic Era of NBC's Saturday Night Live remember him with a satellite dish strapped to his head. Despite his early embrace of location-based technology, Franken showed he's no fan of tracking features.

FCC's Point of View

At the same hearing, a representative of the Federal Trade Commission said the FTC believes wireless carriers and device manufacturers should track only the data needed to provide a service or complete a transaction.

The DoJ told Congress in January that ISPs and wireless providers should have to store user data for two years.

"In many cases, these records are the only available evidence that allows us to investigate who committed crimes on the Internet. They may be the only way to learn, for example, that a certain Internet address was used by a particular human being to engage in or facilitate a criminal offense," Weinstein told Congress in April at a hearing on mandatory data retention.

In his opening statement to Bud Tribble, Apple's VP of software technology, Franken asked why Apple's official response to the location tracking flap was to describe all the cool things location tracking did, while CEO Steve Jobs was saying that location tracking did not exist.

[Read: Who Else Is Tracking Your Location?]

Watch Franken speak at today's hearing (Warning: the video is 9 minutes long).

[Read: Google, Apple Sending Mixed Signals on Tracking ]

"Mr. Tribble, it does not appear to me that both these statements could be true at the same time," Franken said. "Does this data indicate anything about your location or doesn't it?"

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags U.S. Department of JusticeFederal Trade Commissionconsumer electronicsGooglesecurityPhonesprivacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lisa Greim

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?