You'd think by now that tech companies would have figured out how to do right by you when it comes to privacy. But no, not so much, not when your personal data is just soooo tempting.
Matters came to a head this week when Apple announced a change to its developer guidelines--it said iOS applications that collect user contact data break its rules and that a software fix, coming at an unspecified date, will prohibit this behavior. That followed the controversy that erupted earlier in the month, when Path--a popular iOS and Android app--was found to be collecting user contact information without permission. And this week as well, Twitter fessed up that it uploads and stores the contact list data of many app users for 18 months without an explicit heads-up.
The data privacy issue is big enough to have prompted U.S. lawmakers to take notice. Just ahead of Apple's announcement, it became known that a subcommittee in the House of Representatives had written to Apple this week, asking why it doesn't force app developers to ask users for permission before downloading contacts.
Developers seem to think that Apple's new mandate to get user permission before address book uploads shouldn't be too much of a burden; apps would have to be updated rather than overhauled.
Still, did it really need to come to this? CNET's Charles Cooper points out that this is unlikely to be the end of the matter, and asks the question: Until all this gets figured out, why would anyone trust Apple, developers, or Congress to do the right thing? It's not like we haven't seen this sort of mess many times in the not-so-distant past.
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