An Apple spokesperson has issued a statement on the matter of apps being able to access the personal data that is stored within a user’s Address Book on an iOS device. The statement, sent to AllThingsD, was issued by Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr and notes that the company will be releasing software updates in the future that prelude apps from accessing personal data without gathering explicit permission from the device owner. The statement reads;
“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.”
The controversy first arose when it was discovered by a developer that the popular app Path was accessing and transmitting data from users’ address books. As a result, people started to question what other apps were doing the same thing and it emerged that apps such as Twitter and Facebook were also doing some funky things with user address book data.
The response from Apple is a timely reminder that, while the company should be expected to address issues like this in a timely manner, it is the responsibility of both app developers and Apple to ensure that personal information is not shared. Implementation of secure boxed user data in future iOS software releases will at least mean that app development teams will be held to a higher standard when it comes to gathering user data.