Blog // Connect South Carolina

Some Mobile Apps are Gathering Data From Your Address Book

By Wil Payton

Last week, a social networking app called Path came under scrutiny after a programmer discovered a major issue. When you logged into the app on an Apple iOS device — an iPhone or iPad — it automatically uploaded your entire address book to its servers without asking first.

Apparently this was done so you could locate your friends who were also using the service. But if you’re never prompted (which is what most apps do) this functionality has the makings for one big privacy dispute.

An excerpt from a New York Times article below highlights the concerns many have over this revelation:

The address book in smartphones — where some of the user’s most personal data is carried — is free for app developers to take at will, often without the phone owner’s knowledge.

Companies that make many of the most popular smartphone apps for Apple and Android devices — Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram among them — routinely gather the information in personal address books on the phone and in some cases store it on their own computers. The practice came under scrutiny Wednesday by members of Congress who saw news reports that taking such data was an “industry best practice.”

Apple, which approves all apps that appear in its iTunes store, addressed the controversy on Wednesday after lawmakers sent the company a letter asking how approved apps were allowed to take address book data without users’ permission. Apple’s published rules on apps expressly prohibit that practice.

To read the full article click here and be sure to follow Connect South Carolina on Facebook and Twitter for more articles on how technology impacts your life!

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