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US congressmen inquire about iOS privacy with Apple, 33 developers

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Apple along with 33 other companies that develop applications for the iOS App Store have been asked by a pair of U.S. congressmen about their information collection and use practices.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., publicized the letters on Thursday, one of which was addressed to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook for its "Find My Friends" application.

Letters were also addressed to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Dick Costolo of Twitter, Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, Alexander Ljung of SoundCloud, Dennis Crowley of Foursquare, and Bill Chasen of Turntable.fm.

The companies are being questioned because of recent concerns over developers having access to a user's address book stored on their iOS device. The congressmen seek to better understand what information the applications gather, what they do with it, and what notice is provided to users.

The developers targeted in the inquiry were selected because their software was found in the "Social Networking" subcategory on the "iPhone Essentials" curated list of App Store software.

Another major inclusion on the list is Dave Morin of Path, the company that arguably started the iOS address book controversy. Path and Morin came under fire in February after a developer discovered the application was uploading data behind the scenes without notifying users.




Last week, it was said that Cook himself "grilled" Morin after he learned that the "Path" application was uploading users' address books to its servers without their permission. Morin allegedly took part in a meeting with Cook held at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Butterfield and Waxman already sent a letter to Apple in February seeking information about iOS address book security. They questioned whether Apple's application developer policies and practices adequately protect consumer privacy.

Apple distanced itself from the controversy by stating that applications that collect or transmit personal information without first obtaining permission are in violation of its developer guidelines. The company has promised to require explicit user approval before App Store software can access contact data in a future iOS software release.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 12
Was Google in that list?

Why is this an issue now when desktop OSes have given any app installed access to the entire user space for as long as I can remember? At least Apple has added a safeguard in their 2nd beta of ML, but more needs to be done.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #3 of 12
Wasn't there a South Park episode about this.

And, before all of the chimes here, I agree that there are probably bigger fish to fry.
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Was Google in that list?

Why is this an issue now when desktop OSes have given any app installed access to the entire user space for as long as I can remember? At least Apple has added a safeguard in their 2nd beta of ML, but more needs to be done.

I bet it is because it really has nothing to do with address book data collection, rather location tracking. That is the only differentiator between desktop and mobile.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Was Google in that list?

Here is the list:
http://democrats.energycommerce.hous...-and-use-pract

And I don't see Google on it.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

I bet it is because it really has nothing to do with address book data collection, rather location tracking. That is the only differentiator between desktop and mobile.

I think Location Data tracking was added in Lion. This is a screenshot of MLb2. As you can see it does let you see which apps you've allowed to access your Contacts. It even has a pop up when you install an app that is trying to get access to your Contacts. But what about an app that is trying to access other parts of your user space? A good start but more needs to be done and it's long overdue.

I'd like to see System Preferences get a makeover that resembles the iPad's Settings. I'd also like for System Preferences to be renamed Settings to follow along the same track of renaming Address Book and iCal. Not just to make it easer for iDevice users going to the Mac but because the System Preferences layout is more limited than iPad's Settings.


PS: What South park episode are you thinking of?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #7 of 12
What's the opposite of progress? Congress!
Old joke I know but timeless
post #8 of 12
Path has a lot to answer for. Their initial Facebook-esque dismissal of privacy concerns caused all sorts of people to sit up and get involved. Path, Colors.... seems like getting huge sums of venture capital doesn't buy common sense.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Here is the list:
http://democrats.energycommerce.hous...-and-use-pract

And I don't see Google on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Was Google in that list?

Why is this an issue now when desktop OSes have given any app installed access to the entire user space for as long as I can remember? At least Apple has added a safeguard in their 2nd beta of ML, but more needs to be done.

It's not necessary to get Google involved, because they do no evil.
There's nothing your wife/girlfriend/partner wouldn't like more than your 6 Plus...
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There's nothing your wife/girlfriend/partner wouldn't like more than your 6 Plus...
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post #10 of 12
Or is their quote:

DO KNOW EVIL.

I'm confused now.
There's nothing your wife/girlfriend/partner wouldn't like more than your 6 Plus...
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There's nothing your wife/girlfriend/partner wouldn't like more than your 6 Plus...
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post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by joindup View Post

Path has a lot to answer for. Their initial Facebook-esque dismissal of privacy concerns caused all sorts of people to sit up and get involved. Path, Colors.... seems like getting huge sums of venture capital doesn't buy common sense.

I understand that Dave Morin is bring his own lube to the meeting. This is so soon after he was ... em... er... "grilled" by Tim and a whole tribe of lawyers at Apple.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

I understand that Dave Morin is bring his own lube to the meeting. This is so soon after he was ... em... er... "grilled" by Tim and a whole tribe of lawyers at Apple.

Since Tim Cook was also "asked" to attend the Congressional inquiry they'll get to meet in person.

At ArsTechnica they offered a bit more detail on just what information the panel wants:
"In the letter, the two Congressmen ask questions like "how many times was your iOS app downloaded," "did you have a privacy policy in place at the end of February 2012," "has your iOS app transmitted […] any other information from or about a user's device," and a request for descriptions of what has been done to any data that has been transmitted or stored. The developers are given a deadline of April 12, 2012 to respond—exactly three weeks from today."

The responses may be interesting, particularly the comments on "Find my Friends", the only app in the group offered by Apple themselves.

"The request for information comes after social networking service Path was caught transmitting users' address book data to a remote server without explicitly asking for permission—a discovery that led to numerous other apps being called out for the same behavior. (For example, Foursquare, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Voxer were all found to be sending some or all of a user's address book data to their respective servers.) The same month, a similar "loophole" for photos, calendar data, music, movies, and more was discovered, though Apple has implied publicly that it may modify the APIs to require explicit user permission for access to user information."
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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