The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to Google and Apple on Monday, expressing concern over the treatment of user privacy at both companies.
“In the wake of the privacy scandals that surfaced earlier this year, you made several comments to the press around Apple’s beliefs about privacy, including ‘[w]e’ve never believed that these detailed profiles of people that have incredibly deep personal information that is patched together from several sources should exist.’ However, users have consistently had access to apps through the App Store that you have highlighted as contradictory to Apple’s values, including Google and Facebook apps,” declared the Committee in their letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Only a few weeks ago Apple announced changes to its App Store rules that were characterized as attempting to limit how much data third-party app developers can collect from Apple device users. These statements and actions raise questions about how Apple device users’ data is protected and when it is shared and compiled.”
In their letter to Google co-Founder Larry Page, the committee expressed concern over Gmail.
“In June 2017, Google announced changes to Gmail that would halt scanning the contents of a user’s email to personalize advertisements to ‘keep privacy and security paramount.’ Last week, reports surfaced that in spite of this policy change, Google still permitted third parties to access the contents of users’ emails, including message text, email signatures, and receipt data, to personalize content,” the letter proclaimed. “In the context of free services offered by third parties, these practices raise questions about how representations made by a platform are carried out in practice.”
Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS), and Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) all signed the letters.