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FCC, FTC to hold mobile location privacy forum

U.S. lawmakers have set up another meeting with representatives from Apple, Google, and possibly other companies to talk location privacy.

An iPhone 4 running Google Maps.
An iPhone 4 running Google Maps.
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Government inquiries into what companies are doing with location information from mobile devices enter yet another round next month.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are holding a public forum on June 28 to discuss the topic, the AP reports. On the invite list are both Apple and Google, companies that have been called to testify in front of Senate subcommittees on the issue twice this month.

Representatives from Apple and Google are slated to appear in Washington, D.C., this Thursday to answer questions about mobile privacy and protection from U.S. lawmakers in a hearing that will also include Facebook. According to AP, the purpose of the forum next month is similar, with the FCC and FTC curious about how well Apple and others implement the location technology, disclose location tracking behavior, and how the technology is used with children.

Location information privacy has become a high-profile topic for consumers and lawmakers alike. Following research from last month that highlighted a location database file being stored on iOS devices, interest has soared about what kind of information phones are keeping track of, and more importantly, where it's going.

In Apple's case, the company said that location tracking information is a smaller part of a crowd-sourced database of locations it uses to help its devices determine their location using Wi-Fi and cell tower information. Google and Microsoft's mobile operating systems also collect location data from users.

Apple and Google met with the U.S. Senate last week to talk privacy, alongside the FTC and Department of Justice. The DOJ used part of its time topropose new laws that would require mobile providers to collect and store information about their customers. That hearing also resulted in Apple and Google promising to take a look at their app catalogs, and mobile stores to evaluate whether DUI checkpoint apps should be outlawed.

No word yet on which representatives will be attending from both companies. The AP says the FCC and FTC have also invited executives from wireless companies to talk about the issue, alongside other experts.