Lawmakers Ask FTC to Probe Apple, Google

Apple and Google apps

A group of Democratic lawmakers wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Googlesaying the two tech giants secretly allow the collection and sale of user information, according to a Friday (June 24) report by The Wall Street Journal.

As the WSJ reported, the legislators said in a letter to the FTC that Google and Apple allowed these practices by “building advertising specific tracking IDs into their mobile operating systems.

The letter was signed by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Rep. Sara Jacobs of California.

Apple was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon. In a statement to PYMNTS, a Google spokesperson said the company never sells user data, and that Google Play has strict prohibitions against developers selling that data.

Google and Apple have recently enacted measures to curb user data collection through mobile-ad identifiers, allowing iOS and Android users to opt out of having their identifiers sent to apps. Last year, Apple debuted a new version of its software requiring each app to seek user permission, while Google is working on its own privacy restrictions.

“Until recently, however, Apple enabled this tracking ID by default and required consumers to dig through confusing phone settings to turn it off,” the letter said, per WSJ. “Google still enables this tracking identifier by default, and until recently did not even provide consumers with an opt-out.”

The letter adds that the “identifiers have fueled the unregulated data broker market by creating a single piece of information linked to a device that data brokers and their customers can use to link to other data about consumers.”

See also: Google Faces EU Regulator Crackdown on 2 Fronts

This news comes as both companies are facing scrutiny from watchdogs in Europe over data usage issues.

As PYMNTS reported earlier this week, Germany’s Bundeskartellamt opened an investigation into the Google Maps platform and how Google’s rules hinder the use of certain Maps features and data.

In a statement, Andreas Mundt, who heads the German antitrust authority, said “we have information to suggest that Google may be restricting the combination of its own map services with third-party map services.”

Google said the company was cooperating with regulators and would answer questions about its business. The Bundeskartellamt said it is also investigating Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

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