Apple's Consumer-Tracking Controversy Illustrates Importance of End User Agreements

Apple Inc. has sent a letter to Congress, saying it must collect the controversial tracking data that has some privacy experts warning consumers about the iPhone and iPad tracking their whereabouts, according to The Consumerist.

Chicago technology attorneys understand how important it is to make sure user service agreements, privacy statements, and other legal documents protect companies from legal penalties as they deploy next-generation technologies. In this case, Apple prudently made sure its end user agreement or clickwrap agreement provided it with the authority to collect and maintain user location data.

Bloomberg News reports the revelation that the company tracks up to a year's worth of a user's movements, and stores them in an unencrypted file, could lead to greater regulatory scrutiny in both the United States and Europe.

Apple has said it saves the location of WiFi hotpots and cell phone towers used by the equipment to provide a better user experience (such as not having to login a password each time you use a wireless system at home or work).

PC Magazine reports that Apple has agreed to encrypt the data in the next version of its operating system. The company acknowledged that the data is sent to Apple, so that it can maintain a crowd-sourced list of wi-fi hotspots and cell phone towers. But it said the actual location of the user can be up to 100 miles away, depending on a tower's location and other variables.

Google's Street View mapping service has run up against similar privacy concerns. The company was fined $147,000 in France last month for violating that country's privacy rules.

Jeremy A. Gibson & Associates represents clients in software, privacy and security matters in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. Call 877-452-4529 for a free consultation.