After the recent mess around apps like Path that were accessing users’ Address Book data without explicit consent, it has spoken up. It will now require any iOS app that wishes access to contact data to be granted it specifically by a user action, reports All Things D.
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.
The news that explicit permission will be required comes from Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr and seems to indicate that there will be a mandatory dialog box enabled in a future release of the iOS software on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.
The Next Web recently investigated exactly what information many popular devices have been collecting and sending to their servers. The practice, it turns out, is much more extensive than many had assumed. We found that Path, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Voxer and Foursquare were among many that transmitted data. Path, while sending more information than many others, was not alone in doing it without consent of the user.
We also talked about the difficulties involved in enforcing user warnings without direct intervention from Apple. One of the possible solutions was always a mandatory notice built into iOS at a very low level, making it impossible for any app to access that data.
Now, it appears as if Apple has determined that limiting control to the contact data using this kind of universal permission is the best course of action. There is no word yet whether other information, like Calendar data or Photos, both of which can be accessed without explicit permission by portions of the OS, will be limited in the same way.
It is unclear which version of Apple’s iOS software this change will be included with, but it has an impending release, iOS 5.1, which it could modify before it is finalized. This is the version which many assume will be shipped with the upcoming iPad 3.