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February 15, 2012

Apple to address iPhone app privacy policy

Following pressure from US legislators, who say Apple's apps allowed people to access private address book data without user's permission

By CBR Staff Writer

Apple has revealed that it will begin to require iPhone and iPad applications to seek explicit approval to access personal contact information of users’ smartphones.

The move follows pressure from US legislators, who say that the popular software applications in Apple’s App Store allowed people to access private address book data without user’s permission.

An Apple spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of their 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," added the spokesman.

The company was under pressure as two members of the US House Energy and Commerce committee requested Apple CEO Tim Cook to clarify its privacy policies and the steps taken to screen applications sold on its App Store.

A letter from the Committee asked Apple to provide information on its developer guidelines with a deadline to submit its response by February 29.

iPhone bloggers have raised concerns that applications including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Foodspotting downloaded user’s private and sensitive address book without permission, as they were concerned that these could be easily intercepted and misused.

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Last week, a Singaporean iPhone developer found that Path, a social networking application used on iPhone, had been uploading users’ entire contact details onto its servers.

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