Lawmakers ask the FTC to probe Apple and Google

A group of Democratic lawmakers want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google, claiming the two tech giants covertly allow the collection and sale of user information, according to a Friday, June 24 report from The Wall Street Journal .

As the WSJ reported, lawmakers said in a letter to the FTC that Google and Apple were enabling these practices by “creating advertising-specific tracking identifiers in their mobile operating systems.”

The letter was signed by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Representative 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 strictly prohibits developers from selling such data.

Google and Apple recently adopted measures to limit the collection of user data via mobile ad IDs, allowing iOS and Android users to opt out of having their IDs sent to apps. Last year, Apple rolled out a new version of its software requiring every app to ask for 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 into confusing phone settings to disable it,” the letter says, according to WSJ. “Google still enables this tracking ID by default and until recently did not even provide consumers with an opt-out option.”

The letter adds that “IDs have fueled the unregulated data broker market by creating a single piece of device-related information that data brokers and their clients can use to link to other consumer data.”

See also: Google faces crackdown from European regulators on 2 fronts

The news comes as the two companies are under scrutiny by watchdogs in Europe over data usage issues.

As PYMNTS reported earlier this week, Germany’s Bundeskartellamt has launched an investigation into the Google Maps platform and how Google’s policies impede the use of certain Maps features and data.

In a statement, Andreas Mundt, who heads the German antitrust authority, said “we have information suggesting that Google may restrict 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 was also investigating Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

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