PSA: Popular iPhone and iPad apps and what they're doing with your Contacts

PSA: Popular iPhone and iPad apps and what they're doing with your Contacts

What do some popular iOS apps to with your Contact data? Do they grab it without permission, transmit it without protection, and store it without regard to privacy? Or do they treat it right, with respect and responsibility? That's the question both Dieter Bohn of The Verge and Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web sought to answer today.

The reason for the sudden interest -- in a years old problem -- is because a popular app, Path, was discovered taking users Contact data without asking, and uploading it in an insecure way to their servers. It wasn't nefarious; as with other apps that do likewise, they were trying to provide a service -- match users with friends who are also users. They just coded first, asked questions never.

For more background, and the solution iMore would like Apple to implement, see our recent editorial: iOS 6 and privacy: How Apple should draw inspiration from Android for better app permissions

The Verge spent the day packet sniffing popular apps, basically running their own man-in-the-middle attack, to see if any Contact data was being transmitted and if so, how it was being handled. The Next Web received an assist from Tweetbot developer Paul Haddad, who ran his own, similar tests.

Of the apps found to be on the naughty list, or in the gray-zone, it sounds like the publicity will be causing swift updates.

Hit the links below to see the results.

Source: The Verge, The Next web

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

PSA: Popular iPhone and iPad apps and what they're doing with your Contacts


I cant' even look at imore and not think Buy More...They really should match the color scheme and Rene and the gang could be the nerd herd crew.

Please help me.... Are they still uploading our contacts doing it even if we don't indicate that we want them to go through our contacts at all? I know if you tell the app ok, u can go through my contacts they are saving them to the server with out asking and that is wrong. but are they uploading contacts even if you dont indicate you want them to go through your contacts at all?
The reason I ask is I never signed up for Path though I did have it on my iphone. I opened it for the first time just before the dust up and it took a while to open. During that load lag the 3G data indicator appeared to be active showing that i was using a data connection...was Path uploading my contacts then when I handn't even signed up for Path or used it yet? Did it proactively upload my contacts to their server just from me opening the app? You think after the Dragon Dictation app contacts dustup from last year they'd have learned.
Please say no...
I'm gonna show some real medieval up in yo A$$ realness to Apple and the app developers.