Path CEO: We are sorry, and we've deleted your address book data

Path aims to regain users' trust with an apology and a mass deletion of data it got without permission.

Rafe Needleman
Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
3 min read

Dave Morin is sorry.

In reaction to the disclosure that the social networking service Path absorbs iPhone address books to connect users together -- without asking users first for permission to use that data -- Path CEO Dave Morin has posted an apology. He also says that Path has deleted all the address book data it has, to date, collected, as Path investor Michael Arrington suggested.

A new version of Path for the iPhone, 2.0.6, which should be live in the App Store now, prompts users for permission before it uploads the phone's contacts to the Path servers.

What do you think? From a technological perspective, is Path now on the right path? And is Morin's apology appropriate?

Dave Morin's apology is on Path's blog, and reprinted here:

We are sorry

We made a mistake. Over the last couple of days users brought to light an issue concerning how we handle your personal information on Path, specifically the transmission and storage of your phone contacts.

As our mission is to build the world's first personal network, a trusted place for you to journal and share life with close friends and family, we take the storage and transmission of your personal information very, very seriously.

Through the feedback we've received from all of you, we now understand that the way we had designed our 'Add Friends' feature was wrong. We are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts.

In the interest of complete transparency we want to clarify that the use of this information is limited to improving the quality of friend suggestions when you use the 'Add Friends' feature and to notify you when one of your contacts joins Path--nothing else. We always transmit this and any other information you share on Path to our servers over an encrypted connection. It is also stored securely on our servers using industry standard firewall technology.

We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information. We also believe that actions speak louder than words. So, as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy, we've deleted the entire collection of user uploaded contact information from our servers. Your trust matters to us and we want you to feel completely in control of your information on Path.

In Path 2.0.6, released to the App Store today, you are prompted to opt in or out of sharing your phone's contacts with our servers in order to find your friends and family on Path. If you accept and later decide you would like to revoke this access, please send an email to service@path.com and we will promptly see to it that your contact information is removed.

We care deeply about your privacy and about creating a trusted place for you to share life with your close friends and family. As we continue to expand and grow we will make some mistakes along the way. We commit to you that we will continue to be transparent and always serve you, our users, first.

We hope this update clears up any confusion. You can find Path 2.0.6 in the App Store here.

Dave Morin
Co-Founder and CEO

For an update on this story, see "Path's Dave Morin: No, really, I don't lie about this stuff."