In response to the news that both Apple and Google were recording the locations of smart phone users, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law held a hearing last week to consider the privacy implications of cell phone tracking.
Executives from both companies answered questions, explaining how their mobile software collects and uses location data, reports PC Magazine. They also discussed some of the phone settings that users can activate to protect their data.
According to the magazine, Google insists that the data it collects is anonymous and only kept for about a week. Apple reiterated that its cell phone tracking does not collect locations, but instead tracks nearby cell towers and hotspots so that software can choose an appropriate ad.
Unfortunately, the cell phone tracking debate is far from over.
Also chiming in on the issue are representatives from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
During the hearing, the FTC agreed with the Senators, and proposed restricting the use of location data to situations where it is absolutely necessary for a service to function, reports PC World.
On the other hand, in January, the Department of Justice told Congress that it considers the data a useful crime-fighting tool, and wants carriers to maintain records for 2 years.
Until regulatory officials decide how to proceed, the only recourse for users affected by cell phone tracking is to file private lawsuits under invasion of privacy laws at both the state and federal levels.
And even that can take awhile.