Neoseeker.com Forum Thread: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data - page 1

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original thread: http://www.neoseeker.com/forums/2537/t1716124-iphone-apps-stealing-contact-data/


Author:   Enhance
Date:   Feb 17, 12 at 1:43am (PST)
Subject:   iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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Gizmodo has an interesting article here about how iPhone apps steal your contact data and why you can't really do anything about it:

quote
The internet is starting to realize something unsettling: our iPhones send information about the people we know to private servers, often without our permission. Some offending apps are fixing themselves. Some aren't. But the underlying problem is much bigger.
Apple allows any app to access your address book at any time—it's built into the iPhone's core software. The idea is to make using these apps more seamless and magical, in that you won't have dialog boxes popping up in your face all the time, the way Apple zealously guards your location permissions at an OS level—because fewer clicks mean a more graceful experience, right? Maybe, but the consequence is privacy shivved and consent nullified. Even Steve Jobs thinks so. Your phone makes decisions about what's okay to share with a company, whose motivation is, ultimately, making money, without consulting you first.

Once you peel back that pretty skin of your phone and observe the software at work—we used a proxy application called Charles—watching the data that jumps between your phone and a remote server is plain. A little too plain. What can we see?

As Paul Haddad, the developer behind the popular Twitter client TapBot pointed out to me, some of App Store's shiniest celebrities are among those that beam away your contact list in order to make hooking up with other friends who use the app smoother. From Haddad's own findings:

Foursquare (Email, Phone Numbers no warning)
Path (Pretty much everything after warning)
Instagram (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last warning)
Facebook (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last warning)
Twitter for iOS (Email, Phone Numbers, warning)
Voxer (Email, First, Last, Phone numbers, warning)
More at the source linked above.

I never read into what an apps takes and so I'm sure that most of my contact data of myself and all of my phones contacts is out there. I can only hope that it is being used to benefit me but nothing can stop someone that intends to use it maliciously. I do think that apps should be more clear in what data they are accessing and what they are going to use it for.

Thoughts?





Author:   Arietta
Date:   Feb 17, 12 at 3:31am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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This has called Apple's attention and they have stated that collecting said information is against their guidelines and they will make it a permission next time. That is, in future iOS releases, you will see a "This app wants access to your contacts list" kind of message (just like you do with the GPS).

I wouldn't worry about it much for now. Path has stated they did it to "improve the user experience" and after a developer found his contacts were being uploaded without his permission, their CEO apologized and reportedly they deleted all the contact data they had on their servers.

On another note, Twitter for iOS is collecting data? Sounds kind of bizarre since Twitter is now in some sort of partnership with Apple, so if the official Twitter app is doing it wouldn't Apple have known about it earlier?



Author:   Roy
Date:   Feb 17, 12 at 4:58am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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It is also used to sync contacts on your list to Facebook (if they have an account).



Author:   Aura
Date:   Feb 17, 12 at 11:52am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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I was under the impression that data was being sent and stored regardless of the applications used, I only say this because I remember reading an article some time ago that outlined just what Apple were recording; names, phone numbers, phone calls, text messages, location of said calls and messages, and more.



Author:   Roy
Date:   Feb 19, 12 at 2:03am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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Doesn't that mean that information sent will be shared with everyone? So much for privacy on cellphones.



Author:   Aura
Date:   Feb 20, 12 at 8:25am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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quote Roy
Doesn't that mean that information sent will be shared with everyone? So much for privacy on cellphones.

Not sure if you were directing this question at me, but no, I don't believe the stored information was available for just anyone to see, but for those who knew where to look (as well as those who already knew about it), I'm assuming it would be a different matter.



Author:   Roy
Date:   Feb 21, 12 at 3:45am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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I was talking to everyone. I am talking about people who you call and text.



Author:   louisa9
Date:   Feb 23, 12 at 10:23am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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Who can protect our privacy on cellphones?



Author:   Aura
Date:   Feb 23, 12 at 1:47pm (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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Roy, that's fair enough. I mentioned everything I could recall, so can't really offer anything more there.

louisa9, call this a shot in the dark, but I doubt privacy could ever be truly private, and the closest one could probably get to achieving that, would be to use a dinosaur of a handset, or not using modern technology at all.

I'm not suggesting that there's a government conspiracy in which all of our information (and movements) is being tracked and recorded, but I find it hard to believe that monitoring this kind of sensitive information is something that has only just started in the past several years.



Author:   Roy
Date:   Feb 23, 12 at 11:51pm (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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Besides me debating on whether to post Ozzy's "Shot In The Dark" video, they cannot hope this charade will fade, because no matter what phone they come out with it will still find a loophole.



Author:   Enhance
Date:   Feb 29, 12 at 12:30am (PST)
Subject:   re: iPhone Apps Stealing Contact Data
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Too add on to this it is now being reported that apps can take any photos and videos that it wants off your phone without any notice as well.

quote
Developers of applications for Apple’s mobile devices, and Apple itself, came under scrutiny this month after reports that some apps were taking people’s address book information without their knowledge.

As it turns out, address books are not the only things up for grabs. Photos are also vulnerable. After a user allows an application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to have access to location information, the app can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers.

It is unclear whether any apps in Apple’s App Store are actually doing this. Apple says it screens all apps submitted to the store, and presumably it would not authorize an app that clearly copied a person’s photos without good reason. But copying address book data was also against Apple’s rules, and the company let through a number of popular apps that did so.
Granted, the amount of apps that would take advantage of this is minuscule but it would still be nice for Apple to add more security layers so that apps can be prevented from free access to areas like this.


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