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Apple, Google to meet with Schumer over smartphone privacy

The New York senator says the tech giants have agreed to discuss how it was that apps running on their mobile operating systems violated user privacy.

It looks like Apple and Google would rather avoid a federal smartphone privacy probe.

Sen. Charles Schumer told The New York Times today that the tech giants have agreed to meet with him to discuss concerns that applications running on their mobile operating systems violate user privacy. Smartphone privacy concerns have increased in the past couple of weeks after it was revealed that Path--a popular iOS and Android application--was found to be collecting user contact information without permission.

"We have talked to both of them today and they seem open to talking about it," the New York Democrat told the newspaper. "We asked them if they could find a way on their own to prevent apps from having access to private info. They were friendly and open to the idea that this ought to be changed."

In a letter yesterday asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate both Apple and Google, Schumer said recent accusations that personal information was being accessed by mobile applications goes "beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app's functionality."

Apple representatives did not respond to requests for comment on Schumer's concerns but has previously said that "apps that collect or transmit a user's contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines." The company also said that a future software update to iOS 5 will prohibit developers from engaging in those activities.

Google representatives told CNET earlier today that the Web giant is considering adding a permission for apps to access images. We've always had policies in place to remove any apps on Android Market that improperly access your data."