Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants answers from Apple over what he says was its inadequate response to revelations about the Mac App Store's Adware Doctor app.
The app was reportedly collected, storing and sending user info to a server in China, a practice Rubio says Apple was aware of and took weeks to pull from its store or inform consumers about, and only after its existence was made public.
Rubio wants to make sure that doesn't happen again.
"For a company that prides itself on prioritizing user privacy and security, this delayed response is extremely disconcerting," Rubio wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook, according to a copy supplied to B&C. "It is also troubling that Apple researchers failed to uncover Adware Doctor’s covert collection and “storage” process. Over the last decade, Apple’s Mac App Store has seen more than 170 billion downloads, and your users have trusted your company to protect them from unsolicited intrusions. "
Rubio has broader concerns about China's access to U.S. intellectual property. For example, he has been highly critical of the Trump Administration's decision to remove a ban on U.S. exports to Chinese telecom ZTE, but he told Cook that the threat of American user data making its way to China was equally troubling.
Rubio wants answers to the following questions, though he did not give Cook a deadline:
"1) Why were the claims involving Adware Doctor’s use of user data not immediately investigated? Was this an oversight issue or were the claims of the researchers simply disregarded?
"2) What steps will Apple management take to respond in a more prompt and efficient manner to researcher concerns that are brought to your attention?
"3) What steps will Apple take to audit application updates in a more expeditious manner?
"4) What steps will Apple take to ensure that applications using Apple’s Mac App Store have appropriate security protocols in place to prevent foreign actors from gaining access to user data?"
Both Republicans and Democrats have been scrutinizing edge providers over everything from privacy and data security to sex trafficking, Russian election interference and content bias.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.