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Senator Josh Hawley calls on Tim Cook to enable “Do Not Track” feature across all apps

Senator Hawley is a big advocate of the "Do Not Track" idea.

A day after Apple’s WWDC event, GOP Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook, asking him to offer a “do not track” option for Apple customers. This is to let users opt out of online tracking done through iPhone and iPad apps as well as when using Apple’s Safari browser.

In the letter, Senator Hawley said that he was pleased with Apple’s new announcement about restricting mobile apps from permanently tracking users’ location and tapping into data about which Wi-Fi signals they are using, however, he believes that Apple can still do better in addressing the issue at hand.

The senator asks Apple to institute a policy requiring all apps published in the App Store to respect users’ wishes if they choose the “Do Not Track” option.

Last month, Senator Hawley introduced a bill that would create a federally enforced Do Not Track registry. It will allow Americans to opt out of companies collecting their data beyond what is necessary for the services to run properly. If companies violate such a bill, they will be met with steep penalties. Unfortunately, the bill currently only has one co-sponsor.

Senator Hawley writes:

“I am optimistic that Congress will give my bipartisan bill serious consideration, but you have the power to provide these protections to your customers even before Congress acts. If your company is serious about protecting privacy, you should give your customers the power to block all companies from collecting or sharing any data that is not indispensable to the companies’ online services.”

According to Senator Hawley, his proposed bill aims to end the greedy data-grabbing practices of bad-actor companies. However, he reiterated that his effort would not be enough unless companies such as Apple implement the principles behind his Do Not Track bill. Recent reports show that apps on the Apple store have been collecting data on iPhone users, oftentimes without their knowledge or consent. This is despite the fact that Apple has been known to be a more privacy-oriented company than other tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

Apple refused to comment on the letter as, perhaps, agreeing to the “do not track” option runs counter to the business model of the App Store.

Read Senator Hawley’s letter to Tim Cook here.

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