There's been a bit of a brouhaha that's erupted over the past week or so concerning some iOS apps that gain access to and upload a user's contact data without he or she knowing about it. The situation began with Path, which recently received an update to fix the contact sharing issue, but it's since been discovered that other apps do the same thing. Today Apple has issued a response to all of the reports of apps quietly gathering user contact data. In a statement sent to All Things D, the Cupertino firm explained that apps that gather or transmit contact data without first getting permission to do so are in violation of its app rules. Apple went on to say that it plans to push out a software update that will require apps to gain user approval before accessing contact data. The full statement:
“Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines. 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.”
Many of the offending apps have gotten updates in the past few days to make it so that they ask a user for access to his or her contacts. It's kind of strange that several apps were able to make it into the App Store with the ability to quietly collect a user's contact data, but the decision to require that apps gain explicit user approval before accessing the data sounds like a good one to make. However, there's no word yet on when the software update may be released. We'll pass along more details as we get them.