Apple to set new rules over app access to iPhone address books

16 Feb 2012

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App access to address books will soon require explicit user permission, Apple has said, following the furor over revelations that social app Path gathered address book information on its servers.

Apple has stated that soon apps that require address book data will require explicit user permission. The statement follows a furor surrounding revelations that Path uploaded the entire contents of address books from iPhones to its servers.

It is still an issue of debate why Path received so much condemnation since its activities have been common practice so far among app creators with the intention of providing a more useful service to users

Last week, Path’s CEO Dave Morin apologised and promised to change the practice after Singapore-based software developer Arun Thampi discovered a flaw when he began observing various API calls made to Path’s servers from the iPhone app. This then led to Thampi discovering that his entire address book – including names, emails and phone numbers – were being sent to Path without his permission.

"Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines," Apple stated.

"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."

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com