In the wake of yesterday’s privacy concerns over Path uploading the address books of users without their consent, the company’s CEO Dave Morin has today come back with an apologetic blog post and explanation:
“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.”
No matter how you look at it, this was the right move. Whether you agree that Path was intending nothing evil with the data or not, it’s always right to have an opt-in status rather than opt-out. Though there is still a part that’s very interesting:
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will promptly see to it that your contact information are removed.”
I can’t say that I’m overly comfortable with having to email the company to remove my data. But I would also venture to say that almost every social service would require you to do this, rather than removing the data on the uninstallation of an app, so it’s likely a par for the course scenario.
As a gesture of goodwill, however, Path has taken Arrington’s advice:
“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.”
The question, ultimately, is one of how comfortable you are with the services that you use. Are you willing to let some of your information float behind walls that are assured to be protective, in order to have ease of access if you decide to come back to the app at a later time? If you are, then don’t worry about the email. If that’s not quite enough for you, then it’s a question of whether you feel like sending an email. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to ask.