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He's always watching: Apple CEO Steve Jobs has implemented a plan that would allow his company to track users and target ads at their mobile devices. Germany isn't happy with that plan or Apple's lack of transparency.  (Source: MHP Books)
Nation demands answers as to what data Apple is collecting

Germany's Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger in an interview [Google translation] with Der Spiegel said that American electronics maker Apple needs to immediately adopt more transparency .  She stated, "Users of iPhones and other GPS devices must be aware of what kind of information about them is being collected."

She said that Apple must "immediately make clear" what information it plans to collect.  She says that Apple must "open its databases to German data protection authorities" and make it clear how long it intends to keep user data.

The announcement comes in the wake of changes to Apple's privacy policy, which indicate that Apple may be tracking and storing users' locations via GPS.  That could allow the company to better target its ads, leading to more lucrative revenue and new opportunities, but it would also create privacy concerns.

While it's clear that you can opt out of allowing third-party (non-Apple) apps to collect location data, it's unclear if you can completely opt out of Apple's mobile device tracking plan or exactly what that plan is (the legal language merely suggests that Apple has the opportunity to make use of tracking).

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger says it would be "unthinkable" for Apple to track users' locations or collect info to try to detect their personalities.  She states, "Apple has the obligation to properly implement the transparency so often promised by (CEO) Steve Jobs."

Apple faces government inquiries in the U.S. over privacy and antitrust concerns.

Meanwhile, other companies are struggling with Germany's progressive stance on privacy. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has directed recent criticism against the world's largest social network, Facebook.  She firmly disagrees with the site's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, in his belief that users no longer care about privacy.  She recently quit the site over privacy concerns.

Google also recently apologized to Germans for "accidentally" collecting personal data sent by consumers over wireless networks.





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