Following the warning by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May, Apple took serious steps in protecting its users’ data. It tackled the app developers who were compromising user privacy and sharing location data with third parties. They were removed from the App Store until they took the necessary measures to ensure that users’ personal information and data remained secure.
However, US House of Representatives still seemed unsatisfied. They targeted questions towards CEOs of Apple and Alphabet regarding why were the companies even letting third-party app developers from collecting any personal data from their users at all, even though both the companies had agreed that such data is sensitive and should not exist. Google had also declared that it would stop analyzing users’ emails in June 2017.
Despite all the efforts by the companies, last week reports came up which revealed that both companies are still allowing third party apps to scan users’ signatures, email texts, receipt data, location data from Android and iPhone devices and even audio recording data. It comes as a surprise to users that third party apps are allowed access to their private messages and other personal information. The US Energy and Commerce Committee are not happy about it and seek answers from Apple and Google over it. An excerpt from one of the letter reads:
“Recent reports have also suggested that smartphone devices can, and in some instances, do, collect ‘non-triggered’ audio data from users’ conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a ‘trigger’ phrase, such as ‘okay Google’ or ‘hey Siri.’ It has also been suggested that third party applications have access to and use this ‘non-triggered’ data without disclosure to users.”
The letters sent to both companies’ CEOs investigated their representation of third-party access to user data and collection and use of audio recording data as well as location information. The latest reports have made the position of the companies doubtful as they seem to be listening in to the conversations of the users and watching over them as well.
Until Monday, Apple had still not responded to the letter while Google gave this statement: “Protecting our users’ privacy and securing their information is of the utmost importance. We look forward to answering the Committee’s questions.”