As we continue to follow the fallout from Path’s address book practices, other popular apps are starting to issue statements on the issue. This has turned into an industry-wide issue and Apple has stated it will now require “explicit permission” for apps that want access to your address book.
We wanted to reassure you that Foodspotting never has and never will use your iPhone contacts without your permission. The only time address book info is ever sent to Foodspotting is when you explicitly ask us to find friends from your address book by tapping, “Follow People > Find iPhone Contacts,” and we never store any of this data on our servers.
Foodspotting goes on to say that it wants to make its address book practices more transparent so that its userbase doesn’t have to worry about using its app moving forward.
Even though it’s not storing your address book data when you use the “Find iPhone Contacts” feature of the app, the company will add a popup requiring you to give Foodspotting explicit permission to go through your address book.
The company says its current practice is took grab the names and email addresses of your friends from your address book to check against its server to see if your friends are on the service. Foodspotting says it immediately deletes the data once this check is complete and points out that “No phone numbers or names are transferred.”
However, the data is currently transferred to Foodspotting in a way that’s not so secure, which the company says it will address in a future update:
What are the concerns?
While your address book data is being sent to Foodspotting (which only takes seconds), there is a very slight chance that hackers could access your contacts’ email addresses if they happen to be on the same wifi network as you and monitoring your activity. (When doing any online activities on an unsecure wifi network, you’re subject to this sort of risk.) It only applies to Foodspotting users’ iPhone Contacts when and if you are logged in and use “Find iPhone Contacts” before our next update.
While most mainstream users of the app have no idea that there are even concerns about the practices of apps grabbing a copy of their address books, it is great to see companies taking this opportunity to look at what they’re doing and make it more secure. Whether most users won’t ever realize there was a potential risk or issue before the next update, the ones that do will be more likely to suggest Foodspotting to their friends because of this kind of action and transparency.