Congress Queries App Developers on Their Data Privacy Practices

In what apparently is an upshot of the high-profile privacy-invading issue linked to the Path social networking app last month, US lawmakers have recently initiated investigations into the privacy policies of developers of third-party apps for the Apple iOS platform.

In a query about the kind of users' information collected, and subsequently used, by the app developers, two ranking Democrats of the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce - Reps. Henry A. Waxman (California) and G. K. Butterfield (North Carolina) - sent out letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and 33 high-profile, third-party app developers, earlier this week.

The letters have been sent to some of the bigwig companies like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Path, LinkedIn, and Instagram; as well as to Tim Cook because of Apple's Find My Friends app.

According to Butterfield, the letters to the app developers underscore Congress' attempts to ensure that the `right to privacy' is respected for all consumers; and is just one part of the lawmakers' overall endeavors to have a profound understanding of what exactly is happening to the users' data, "regardless of whether it's in the online, offline, mobile or wired space, and regardless of the technology involved."

Noting that the controversy involving Path had shown that "the mobile app space isn't doing enough to inform users" about privacy-related issues, Butterfield said in an email to Wired that the lawmakers want to use the information from the app developers "to determine if this an across-the-board issue or limited to just a few players."