Apple: Apps using contact data are in "violation"; fix coming soon

Summary:Apple says that applications that access contact data are in "violation" of the terms and conditions of the App Store, and a fix will soon come into force.

After the furore around Path accessing and storing users' contact list data, Apple has said it will require any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch application downloaded from its App Store to be given explicit consent by the user before contact data is accessed.

Just as when location data is requested by an application in a pop-up message on iOS devices, access to the contact list will be displayed in a similar prompt, it is understood.

In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said:

"Apps that collect or transmit a user's contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines. We're 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."

Although the timing of the fix is not yet known, it is often within Apple's nature to issue such fixes within days or the following week; although timing can vary.

As reported by sister site CNET, U.S. lawmakers have been made aware of the problem. A House subcommittee sent a letter to Apple this week asking why it does not force application developers for its platform to request user permission before uploading contact data to other services.

Twitter was also embroiled in the privacy row after it was found that iOS and Android users have their data "scanned" and uploaded by the application when the "Find friends" feature is used. Twitter admitted that the data is retained for 18 months, while its privacy policy does not explicitly disclose that it uploads and stores user contact information.

Apple did not immediately respond to questions in reply over other stored data, such as email messages or calendar data.

Supporting image credit: Apple.

Related:

Topics: Apple

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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