Apple disallows developers from collecting and sharing Contacts data

Posted:
in iPhone
A largely unnoticed change in the revised App Store Guidelines Apple issued during WWDC was a ban on developers building their own databases with collected contact info, and/or sharing them without further permission.

iPhone X contacts


Until the revised guidelines were released last week, iOS developers only needed to secure initial permission to harvest contact data, Bloomberg noted on Tuesday. iOS Contacts can contain not just phone numbers and email addresses but other saved information such as photos and birthdays.

"The address book is the Wild West of data," one anonymous developer explained prior to WWDC. "I am able to instantly transfer all the contacts info into some random server or upload it to Dropbox if I wanted to, the very moment a user says okay to giving contacts permission. Apple doesn't track it, nor do they know where it went."

Under the new rules, developers are not only barred from creating, sharing, or selling databases based on harvested contact info, but must use contact data explicitly for what they say they will unless they get further permission.

Likewise, apps can't contact people "except at the explicit initiative of that user on an individualized basis," and must offer message previews.

Apple will likely have a difficult time enforcing the new policy, but should be able to wield it when it learns of privacy breaches through media reports and security researchers.

The company has dealt with a number of contact-related privacy issues in the past, most famously a 2012 controversy over Path. The app was found to be uploading contact lists without permission, an incident which ultimately led to some of Apple's tighter restrictions. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Path, eventually settling out of court, but Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly dressed down Path's CEO in person during the debacle.
sockrolidcornchip
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,127member
    I personally think a users Contacts should be unattainable on iOS. No apps should be left near them. Completely sandboxed and locked down, as safe as a user’s unlock password. It’s one of the reasons I refuse to use WhatsApp, for example. I will never give my contact book to any app... ever. Apple should rethink this. It’s serious.

    Fuck Facebook... fuck snapchat... fuck Twitter... fuck WhatsApp. Fuck them all. They should not have our contacts and be able to determine who we know and where they live and likely relationship—those details are private and no business of any corporation. I remember about four years ago when I re-signed up for Facebook, they rold me: “here are some people you might know”, and it was cousins and friends and relations. Because others clicked a button on their phone these companies get my private data? I don’t think that’s very fair, safe, private, and I think long term it’s a recipe for disaster, tbh. These companies should not have our contact data.
    edited June 12 maciekskontaktmacseekerGG1gutengelmac_dogbonobobracerhomie3fotoformatpropodbaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 36
    As soon as FB asked me if it could use my mobile number as contact displaying it I removed FB application from phone alltogether and it will not come back. I can use it on PC or iPad, but mobile phones will never see FB or similar apps. That went too far. Also I will never get why scam call detection apps ask question to access my contacts. They need to access blocked numbers on my phone in the first place - they are not getting any info about my contacts. I agree contacts should be secured additionally and apps should never ask for access to them in order to function properly. Now with GDPR in life since May some may be cwareful for abousinbg this information as it may end up in court in European Union... regardless if you ask for access in the USA or elsewhere.... so do not ask if you do not want to be forced to show up in court in EU.
    magman1979cornchip
  • Reply 3 of 36
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 354member
    FINALLY!!!!
    Cesar Battistini Mazieroivanholsairnerdmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 36
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 1,997member
    I would like to share the phone number contacts I've blocked. Shirley someone can make an app to share that database that then allows a user to import blacklisted numbers to be blocked.
    mac_dogairnerdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,598member
    That’s going to hurt Whatsapp. It won’t allow you to do anything unless you grant it access to search your contacts. 
    olsmagman1979watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 6 of 36
    The only apps I ever shared my address book with was Whatsapp (before it was acquired) and Venmo. I'm always paranoid the amount of sensitive info any given app can collect just through your address book, from phone number, addresses, birthdays, etc. Glad that apple is taking a stand on this, the problem is that even if you don't share that info probably somebody with your info will...
    Cesar Battistini Mazieroolswatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 7 of 36
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,662member
    ireland said:
    I personally think a users Contacts should be unattainable on iOS. No apps should be left near them. Completely sandboxed and locked down, as safe as a user’s unlock password. It’s one of the reasons I refuse to use WhatsApp, for example. I will never give my contact book to any app... ever. Apple should rethink this. It’s serious.

    Fuck Facebook... fuck snapchat... fuck Twitter... fuck WhatsApp. Fuck them all. They should not have our contacts and be able to determine who we know and where they live and likely relationship—those details are private and no business of any corporation. I remember about four years ago when I re-signed up for Facebook, they rold me: “here are some people you might know”, and it was cousins and friends and relations. Because others clicked a button on their phone these companies get my private data? I don’t think that’s very fair, safe, private, and I think long term it’s a recipe for disaster, tbh. These companies should not have our contact data.
    The main problem is for those apps

    1) Asking for information that you don't even need really for the app to function  (we absolutely know why they're asking it though...).
    2) Not being able to segregate information we want to share on our phone from the one we don't
       I think Apple should have a segregated list of shareable contacts and non shareable ones.
        - That way, we could ask people whose contact we put into our contact base if they agree with us sharing it (most would probably say no).
        - Some contact would always be private
        - My psych, doctor, kids phone number, why the hell should FB have access to that EVER.
       - You should be able to turn on/off tracking  through geofencing
       - Turn off info sharing according to the type of info it is.
    3) After being shared not knowing how the hell it will be used.
        - Being used to sell you a better sliced bread or a better mouse trap is one thing, but
          using it to work with your biases (we all that all some) to manipulate you to act in a way (vote, not vote, vote for X because you hate Y regardless if it will screw you in 20 other ways, not vote for X because X wasn't pure on some hot button) to serve a political aim is just repulsive. Already, wading through the cesspool of disinformations that have sprung up in the last decade to get properly vetted and sourced info, is hard enough.
        


    baconstangairnerdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 36
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,205member
    Rayz2016 said:
    That’s going to hurt Whatsapp. It won’t allow you to do anything unless you grant it access to search your contacts. 
    WhatsApp will simply ask for specific permission. Anyone using the app knows that it has to scan your address book for optimum usability. Your privacy settings are still there.
  • Reply 9 of 36
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,770member
    I'd really like to see Apple give Contacts some dev time.

    I'd like an easy API that allows you to scan in a business card, automagically recognize the contact details (data detectors already does this) and add or update the contact card, pulling in social media feeds. Bonus points if your scanner can batch-process cards after a sales trip/event.

    I'd also like the image of the business card to be displayed, as it can jog your memory.

    Third, I'd like an easy way to separate personal and business contacts.
    airnerdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 36
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 847member
    This issue exists with all services; if an app requests access to your Photo library under the guise of taking a single (say a profile pic) it has access to everything, beyond the intended photo.  The API should be more precise, offering a standard browser to select only that photo.
    bonobobirelandwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 36
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 296member
    frank777 said:
    I'd really like to see Apple give Contacts some dev time.

    I'd like an easy API that allows you to scan in a business card, automagically recognize the contact details (data detectors already does this) and add or update the contact card, pulling in social media feeds. Bonus points if your scanner can batch-process cards after a sales trip/event.

    I'd also like the image of the business card to be displayed, as it can jog your memory.

    Third, I'd like an easy way to separate personal and business contacts.
    There are a number of business card scanners in the App Store that will do much of what you’re looking for.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    eightzero said:
    I would like to share the phone number contacts I've blocked. Shirley someone can make an app to share that database that then allows a user to import blacklisted numbers to be blocked.
    ...don't call me Shirley!
    irelandfastasleepairnerd
  • Reply 13 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,127member
    avon b7 said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    That’s going to hurt Whatsapp. It won’t allow you to do anything unless you grant it access to search your contacts. 
    WhatsApp will simply ask for specific permission. Anyone using the app knows that it has to scan your address book for optimum usability. Your privacy settings are still there.
    Hahahahahahaha.

    Facebook paid $19B for not just its users. Don’t be so naive.
    edited June 12 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    irelandireland Posts: 17,127member
    frank777 said:
    I'd really like to see Apple give Contacts some dev time.

    Third, I'd like an easy way to separate personal and business contacts.
    That’s a really good idea, actually.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 36
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 847member
    ireland said:
    I remember about four years ago when I re-signed up for Facebook, they rold me: “here are some people you might know”, and it was cousins and friends and relations. Because others clicked a button on their phone these companies get my private data? I don’t think that’s very fair, safe, private, and I think long term it’s a recipe for disaster, tbh. These companies should not have our contact data.
    Luckily they had your consent to share your personal data with those companies right?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 36
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 847member

    frank777 said:
    Third, I'd like an easy way to separate personal and business contacts.
    I’d settle for any easy way to select the account and any associated groups when you add a new contact.  It’s hardly rocket science.

    Or maybe it is; G-Suite and Office 365 really screw this up too.  All I wanted was a way to manage a shared contacts group across my team, deployed via a standard contact/calendar/email service not proprietary apps. I think it’s time Apple reinvented User Admin.


  • Reply 17 of 36
    dipdog3dipdog3 Posts: 58member
    Problem is that other people share your contact info with all of these apps, so even if you never share your info, they still have it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 36
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 458member
    ireland said:
    I personally think a users Contacts should be unattainable on iOS. No apps should be left near them.
    You can do that by just answering 'no,' but there are a lot of legitimate reasons people want to give access.

    This is nice, but as the story indicates, it's of limited value since granting access to an app gives it access to everything, so the developers are on their honor to only take what they say, and the ones who cause problems have no honor. It would be nice if Apple/iOS could grant limited access to address book data by field. That way WhatsApp could request name and phone number info but the rest of the data would be kept private.
    edited June 12 cgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 36
    ivanhivanh Posts: 154member
    Contacts on iOS and macOS and iCloud should have field-level security and be stored in seperate databases according to user specified category and security level. 

    Apple is just not doing good enough.
    williamlondoncroprirelandsockrolid
  • Reply 20 of 36
    benji888benji888 Posts: 66member
    As soon as FB asked me if it could use my mobile number as contact displaying it I removed FB application from phone alltogether and it will not come back. I can use it on PC or iPad, but mobile phones will never see FB or similar apps. That went too far. Also I will never get why scam call detection apps ask question to access my contacts. They need to access blocked numbers on my phone in the first place - they are not getting any info about my contacts. I agree contacts should be secured additionally and apps should never ask for access to them in order to function properly. Now with GDPR in life since May some may be cwareful for abousinbg this information as it may end up in court in European Union... regardless if you ask for access in the USA or elsewhere.... so do not ask if you do not want to be forced to show up in court in EU.
    FYI: no one has to put in their phone number, nor address on FB, it is not required. I only have a city near me, not the actual city I live in and email listed. But, yeah, 3rd parties shouldn't have free access to contacts via FB.
    watto_cobra
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