Washington (CNN) – Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota, fired off a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs late Wednesday demanding to know why the company's iPhones and iPads are reportedly compiling secret data tracking customers' whereabouts when they use or carry their devices.
A self-described hacker and a former Apple employee say they recently discovered secret lines of code in Apple's latest operating system known as IOS-4 and, in an article released Wednesday, say it contains data showing consumers' whereabouts every time they use or even just carry a web enabled iPhone or iPad.
The duo also just released an application that allows users to see what information has been collected on their devices.
In his letter, Franken says the, "existence of this information – stored in an unencrypted format – raises serious privacy concerns." He adds, "Anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user's home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken."
The Minnesota Democrat wants to know why Apple is collecting the data, how it is generated, why it's not encrypted, and why Apple customers, "were never affirmatively informed of the collection and retention of their location data."
Franken also asks Jobs to explain who this information has been disclosed to, including Apple.
The researchers, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden who discovered the code, say there is no evidence that the location information is sent back to Apple and, from what they can tell, it only exists on individual iPhones, iPads, and the computers that people sync those devices to.
A spokesman for Franken tells CNN that the Senator has no plans to call hearings on the matter and has not set a deadline for Jobs or Apple to respond to the letter.
Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, Massachusetts, penned a similar note to Apple Thursday saying, "Collecting, storing and disclosing a consumer's location for commercial purposes without their express permission is unacceptable and would violate current law." And he asked Jobs to explain the company's practices. The Democratic political activist group Moveon.Org also announced Thursday that they are organizing a petition drive demanding that Apple reverse course. The petition reads, "Recording our location fingerprints is an outrageous breach of our privacy and our security. You opened this iPhone/iPad security hole-now close it."