Product Engineering // Blog

iPhone Developer Controversy of Uploading User Data

After a lengthy delay bred a significant controversy, Apple finally released an official statement regarding privacy violations committed by numerous iPhone developer partners.

The iPhone developer controversy began when Path, a social media application, was found to be copying the address books of its users to its servers despite making no mention of its intent to do so in its user agreement. Users were unaware that their private data would be used in this way, giving rise to an outcry for which Path eventually apologized, claiming it only accessed contact lists to help its users find one another.

However, this was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In the aftermath of the Path controversy, it was discovered that social media giants including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as well as review sites like Yelp! and Foodspotting were engaged in similar activities. While the exact offenses varied, in each case, apps were uploading and/or storing users’ private data without their expressed permission.

Apple Weighs In

Apple’s official reaction to the controversy was released in the following statement:

“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 phrase “in a future software release” has raised some eyebrows since Apple released the statement. The company made no mention of whether it plans to implement heightened security measures in the future in order to protect users’ private data, or whether it will simply require iPhone developers to make their intentions explicit in user agreements for future software updates.

U.S. Congress is also weighing in on the controversy, forcing Apple to answer for its security and privacy policies. At Applico, we are committed to creating secure apps without compromising privacy or violating permissions. Our products do not misappropriate or share user data without explicit consent.

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