Ina Fried

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Senate Not Done Questioning Apple and Google on Privacy

If you missed Apple and Google being grilled in Washington over privacy issues last week, you are in luck.

The two tech giants are due back on Capitol Hill on Thursday to appear before a different Senate subcommittee. This time, they are also slated to be joined by a Facebook representative.

The hearing, titled Consumer Privacy and Protection in the Mobile Marketplace, is slated for 10 am on Thursday before the Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance subcommittee of the Senate’s Science, Commerce and Technology committee.

Slated to appear are Google public policy director Alan Davidson, Apple government affairs VP Catherine Novelli and Facebook CTO Bret Taylor, along with representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, Common Sense Media and the Association for Competitive Technology.

It’s the latest outgrowth of a mini-furor over how mobile devices make use of location-based data. The recent interest in the issue began after attention was focused on a little-known location database stored on the iPhone as well as the fact that Google and others collect location-based data to build global databases of things like traffic and the location of Wi-Fi signals. By the time Apple noted, a week later, that it was not tracking individual users and that the data customers were seeing was a locally-stored subset of a global crowdsourced database, lawsuits had been filed and regulators were already calling for hearings.

To get more background on the issue, here’s the reader we prepared ahead of last week’s hearings.