Mobile-App Makers Face U.S. Privacy Investigation
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating whether numerous smartphone applications illegally obtained or transmitted information about their users without proper disclosures, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The criminal investigation is examining whether the app makers fully described to users the types of data they collected and why they needed the information—such as a user's location or a unique identifier for the phone—the person familiar with the matter said. Collecting information about a user without proper notice or authorization could violate a federal computer-fraud law.
Online music service Pandora Media Inc. said Monday it received a subpoena related to a federal grand-jury investigation of information-sharing practices by smartphone applications.
Pandora disclosed the subpoena, issued "in early 2011," in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The Oakland, Calif., company said it had been informed it is "not a specific target of the investigation." Pandora said it believed similar subpoenas had been issued "on an industry-wide basis to the publishers of numerous other smartphone applications."...
The Wall Street Journal reported in December that popular applications on the iPhone and Android mobile phones, including Pandora, transmit information about the phones, their users and their locations to outsiders, including advertising networks...