Apple: Future iOS Update Makes Apps Ask Permission To Access Contacts



Apple has officially responded to the contact sharing debacle that was highlighted by the Path iPhone app last week. After it was discovered that Path secretly uploaded a user’s entire contact database to its own servers, the controversy sparked more discussion about how Apple needs to enforce its user privacy guidelines more to protect customers.

Third-party apps will have to ask for permission to access contact data from a user, according to Apple. The issue will be remedied with an upcoming iOS update.

AllThingsD reports:

“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD. “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.”

This privacy scandal caused such a firestorm that the U.S. Congress asked Apple if the company is actively working to better protect its iPhone customers’ personal data. Many, many popular apps in the App Store currently access contact data without asking (although several high-profile apps have already been updated with user permission prompts), and Apple will soon make all developers ask customers to give an app explicit permission to use such information.

It’s clear that Apple needed to address this privacy issue, and this requirement is something that should have been enforced in the App Store from the very beginning. An exact date has not been given for when the iOS update will go live, but iOS 5.1 is expected to drop early next month.

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  • al friede

    this shit should already be disallowed/built-in! 

    where’s little snitch for iOS when you need it….

  • al friede

    this shit should already be disallowed/built-in! 

    where’s little snitch for iOS when you need it….

  • TheBasicMind

    Apple, it was really dumb to have missed this. What I’m pissed about, is that even if I haven’t used one of the offending apps, my name and mobile number are now in all likelihood possessed by someone who shouldn’t have them because one of thes apps will have been used by someone who has my contact data. I only give my mobile number to friends I trust. It is confidential data held in trust by my friends. These companies are being hugely abusive and I’m very angry about it. They have no business knowing my number. Apple should ban the global sharing of contact data with ALL apps, on the basis the user shouldn’t be in a position to decide for all friends if the contact data can be shared. Permission should have to be granted contact by contact.

  • FriarNurgle

    Considering most people have Facebook and/or a google account does it really matter that someone else has your contact list? Most people are just going to click through this. 

  • CharliK

    It isn’t that they missed it. It’s that they thought that developers are mature enough to read and follow the rules they clicked to follow when they signed up to be developers.

    They have since learned this is not the case and they are going to have to force compliance and bad press as ‘nazis’ etc

  • Jakob Lessin

    WhatsApp already asked (today) for permission to view contact details without any update or jailbreak.