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

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.

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TOPICS: Apple
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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.

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8 comments
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  • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

    Whether they like it or not, Apple will eventually have to tighten the API and simply prevent this type of application behavior.

    And people were saying Windows Phone was too strict at the API level. Ironic.
    TheCyberKnight
    • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

      @TheCyberKnight Agreed! Still, it's good to see this kind of change. Apple's behaviour in the past towards personal information has not been particularly impressive. This is a step in the right direction.
      Imrhien
  • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

    Makes you wonder what the heck the App Certification process actually does. If it's not checking for this type of simple API usage then what's the point? Apps have been tossed from the AppStore for far less trivial practices. But stealing my contacts does warrant an immediate eviction? What if my contacts include Tim Cooks or Jonathan Ives number? Also, Apple how do I get my contacts back or deleted from all the apps that stole them. Users should be rightfully angry at the developers who did this but they should really hold Apple accountable because in my mind this is a major security flaw designed in Cupertino.
    windowseat
  • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

    Why not call it by its proper name? This is stealing, pure and simple!

    Given what we already know, millions of people have had their personal information stolen.

    How is this not the biggest breach of security in computer history?
    Untergang des abenlandes
  • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

    Oh this is just more of the same from apple and companies like them, they will skirt any law they can for a profit,and then when caught blame someone else. These types of issues have been going with apple for some time, and this is just when apple is trying to hit it's stride and be this bigger and better than thou company. My thing with apple just like many things just look at HISTORY!!
    bsmi021
    • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

      Yea, I guess at least you don't spend .99 to have your personal information stolen and all your contacts inboxes loaded with spam and viruses like you do with Android and the Google platforms that you get so effectively for free, but at least most in walled Apple platform work.
      partman1969
  • summary approvals would be best

    If they're going to implement more of these approval prompts, I hope they create a screen to approve these permissions in summary: something like the Android approval screen but with they signature ON / OFF iOS toggles.
    Htalk
  • RE: Apple: Apps using contact data are in

    Interesting! I seem to recall Apple "distancing themselves" recently over the issue of Carrier IQ, saying that they don't use that stuff. Well, not any more, anyway. Sounds to me like it's time for a new cell phone company to emerge; one that will stand on the principle of open and transparent services for a clearly stated upfront price.
    danindenver