Apple Feb. 15 vowed to require applications in its App Store that want users' address book data to get user approval. This is a response to an inquiry from two U.S. senators.
(NASDAQ:AAPL) said any application that wants to access user contact data will
require explicit user approval; this is a response to two senators' inquiries
into the application data privacy problem that came to light with Path and
other software makers.
service Path and several other makers of iOS applications store users' address
books on remote servers without users' explicit permission. Address books
include full names, phone numbers and email addresses. After a week of silence
on the subject, Apple has bowed to political pressure.
that collect or transmit a user's contact data without their prior permission
are in violation of our guidelines," Apple claimed in a statement Feb. 15.
working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with
location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit
user approval in a future software release."
Apple did not
specify when the future release would arrive to address the issue, which blew
up after Apple iOS application developer Arun
Path's privacy issue a week ago.
Path CEO Dave Morin
the company uploads the address book to its servers to help
users find and connect to their friends and family on Path quickly and notify
users when friends and family join the service.
apologized and vowed to roll out an upgrade to the company's iOS app that
requires users to opt-in to share their address book with Path. Path also
deleted the address book user data it had collected. The issue blew up broader
when it was discovered
the privacy issue wasn't limited to Path
Thanks to an
unusually less-than-stringent approach to privacy by Apple's iOS developer
policies, iOS apps from Foursquare, Yelp, Twitter and others also were found to
gather information from iPhone users' personal address books.
issues that drag on for days in the media tend to do, the Apple privacy issue
finally caught the attention of lawmakers.
Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and Commerce, Manufacturing
and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member G. K. Butterfield Feb. 15 sent
a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook
requesting more information about the
company's privacy policies.
have been claims that the practice of collecting consumers' address book
contacts without their permission is common and accepted among iOS app developers,"
Waxman and Butterfield wrote. "This raises questions of whether Apples
iOS app developer policies and practices adequately protect consumer
asked Cook to describe all iOS app guidelines that concern criteria related to
the privacy and security of data that will be accessed or transmitted by an app
and want to know how Apple determines whether an app meets those criteria.
(NASDAQ:GOOG) Android applications available in the Android Market also tap
into users' address book data. However, Google's
policy for developers is that every app
must have a prompt for users to
grant permission before they can install the app to their phones.