Alphabet and Apple were served letters from high-level Republicans from the House, seeking explanation about their data collection from devices like location data, e-mails as well as user voices. These letters have been addressed to Tim Cook from Apple and Larry Page from Alphabet. These letters come on the back of confirmed stories last week suggesting that Google is providing third-party developers with data of their users from their Gmail accounts. Additionally, the letter also pertains to the tracking of user’s location by Google even if the feature was disabled on the devices.
The letter sent to Larry Page read that Android users always expect a certain level of privacy while they are using their devices and that such practice of providing user’s private data to other developers without permission from the user is deeply troubling behavior. There was also a mention of collection of data when voice commands are activated on these devices, such as gathering information without disclosure to users while ‘hey Siri’ or ‘okay Google’ is activated. Apple has also not been spared in this regard, with the committee questioning the level of access that third-party developers have to the application store of Apple. Both these giants are supposed to provide answers to the committee by July 23.
Meanwhile, Apple has released a long awaited feature called USB Restricted mode which will prevent hackers from hacking into users’ phones and gathering their data. This features functions by switching off the Lightning port access on the user’s phone if it was laying idle in the last hour. With law enforcement agencies like the FBI making use of various tools such as GrayKey to unlock iPhones of suspects, this leaves users’ private data at a high risk, and Apple is finally stepping up to combat this issue.