updated 04:15 pm EDT, Fri June 25, 2010
Could run afoul of federal privacy protections
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is being called upon by the US government to answer nine questions regarding its new iTunes location data policy. The co-chairs of the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, Representatives Edward Markey and Joe Barton, are reported to have sent a letter to Jobs yesterday, expressing concern that the policy might break Section 222 of the Federal Communications Act, preventing companies from sharing location data without someone's permission. A new portion of the iTunes Store agreement gives Apple and its partners the right to track the "real-time geographic location" of devices to "provide and improve location-based products and services."
The major point of concern is that people must either accept the policy or stop using iTunes-related products entirely. "It is our understanding that Apple's consumers cannot use newly-purchased iPads, iPhones, Apple computers or purchase products for existing Apple products from the iTunes music store unless they accept the revised terms and conditions and include agreeing to the collection and sharing of geographical location data," the letter reads.
Jobs is also being asked to explain why Apple suddenly decided to implement the policy, and to more concretely detail what the data will be used for. Among other things, the letter further requests a list of the internal procedures being used to anonymize data. A July 12th deadline has been set.