Change in Mavericks contact syncing draws privacy concerns

Summary:Apple eliminated the option to manually sync contacts to an iPhone or iPad in OS X 10.9 and it has drawn the ire of security minded Apple users worldwide.

Apple's Mavericks (a.k.a. OS X 10.9) has eliminated the choice to manually sync contacts between Macs and iOS devices, instead forcing their storage on iCloud. Apple is moving away from Sync Services and removed the option to manually sync contacts in the process. Another problem is that contacts stored on iCloud can only be removed by canceling the iCloud account.

The Apple Discussions forums are rife with complaints about the change because of privacy issues associated with storing contacts on iCloud. Apple users in Europe are particularly vocal due the NSA privacy scandal and because privacy laws tend to be more stringent outside the U.S. 

Apple Executive Customer Service told one reader that engineers will only fix problem if enough people complain and/or provide the company with feedback (ideally under Mac OS X). After entering your name, email address and subject (I suggest something like "Mavericks Contact Sync"),  select "Design/Ease of Use" under the Feedback Type drop down and "Applications/Utilities" under the Feedback Area drop down. In the comments field, you could enter something like "I'd like manual syncing of contacts to be reinstated in OS X 10.9/ Mavericks."

Apple's Mac OS X feedback form - Jason O'Grady

iCloud is great for some services but contacts can be highly sensitive and personal, requiring user control and management. It's not hard to imagine that contacts could be exposed (either through a security breach or by request of the NSA) and that's too risky for many users.

Apple's move away from Sync Services is a strategic mistake that eliminates user choice, especially in this sensitive area. Since the change in Mavericks was unannounced, many users have complained that they wouldn't have upgraded to OS X 10.9 if they knew that manual contact sync was eliminated.

User Barney-15E has posted a workaround which allows users to host their own CalDAV and CardDAV server using Baïkal Server. If you set up a CalDAV/CardDAV server on your Mac running Mavericks you'll be able to sync between that Mac and an iPhone. It requires a little time to set up, and the need to download some (free) third party software, and it also requires a willingness to use Terminal. 

Topics: Apple, Cloud, Security


Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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