In the wake of the recent controversy surrounding Apple and its smartphone tracking practices, a European Commission advisory panel is likely to recommend the European Union adopt stricter data protection and privacy rules for mobile device users.
According to the New York Times, the panel plans to adopt the opinion later this week that would urge the governing body to consider geographic location of a mobile device as personal information. However, as the news provider pointed out, the decision may have little effect, as the panel's opinions are not binding, and technology companies have been known to ignore them in the past.
Whether or not technology companies adhere to the opinion, it is likely to cause a rift with EU regulators, the Wall Street Journal stated. Mobile operating system developers, such as Apple and Google, use location tracking information within mobile advertisements to promote local businesses.
In April, Apple said it does not use iPhones and iPads to track its customers. However, according to a separate New York Times report, CEO Steve Jobs did admit that Apple has made some mistakes in how it collects location data. But rather than pinpointing a device's specific location, Apple said it collects information about the locations of Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers around the device.
"Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," the company said on its website.
While this response has eased the minds of some, privacy issues and images of Big Brother remain prevalent for others. Five EU countries have opened investigations about location tracking to determine whether the practice violates data privacy laws.