Apple Bending to Pressure from U.S. Lawmakers on Mobile Privacy

This week, faced with mounting calls for action from U.S. legislators, Apple is doing its part to bolster mobile privacy by requiring iPhone and iPad apps to seek “explicit approval” via more than one user prompt before accessing users’ address book data.

Lawmakers urged Apple to act following a series of findings which indicated that some popular iOS applications “have been able to lift private address book data without user consent.”

Path, a Facebook-style social networking app, for example, was recently discovered to be uploading users’ contact names and phone numbers onto Path’s servers.

A letter from several lawmakers to Apple said that Path’s ability to get away with such actions “raises questions about whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices may fall short when it comes to protecting the information of iPhone users and their contacts.”

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

The legislators have asked Apple to submit a formal response by February 29th.