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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday asking the company to institute a policy requiring apps on its App Store to adhere to customers wishes if they choose a data tracking limitation option.
Hawley’s letter comes weeks after he introduced the Do Not Track Act, a bill that would essentially create a “Do Not Call List” for data tracking online. The bill would give customers the ability to opt out of data tracking that is “beyond what is necessary for the companies’ online services.”
Last week, the Washington Post found that iPhone apps consistently sent information to third parties, an investigation cited by Hawley in his letter to Cook.
“These reports reveal widespread abuse of user trust by app developers,” the senator wrote. “They note that, without adequately informing users, developers hide trackers that transmit reams of data to ad networks and other third parties. Your policies allow users to limit app permissions for system-level data like personal contacts and location services. Yet these reports reveal that your policies do not prevent apps from pilfering mountains of other data and then sharing it with third parties.”
Hawley added that if Apple is “serious about protecting privacy” it should give customers the ability to block companies from harvesting and sharing data that isn’t necessary for apps to use.
The senator’s solution, he says in the letter, is to require apps on Apple’s App Store to comply with a policy that says apps must certify that they don’t collect data beyond “what is indispensable to the companies’ online services” if a customer opts into data tracking limitation.
“If a company collects this data after certifying otherwise, it would clearly violate federal and state prohibitions on unfair or deceptive trade practices, and existing remedies would be available to protect consumers,” he wrote.
You can read all of Hawley’s letter here.
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).