Apple changed its App Store rules last week to limit how developers use information about iPhone owners’ friends and other contacts, quietly closing a loophole that let app makers store and share data without many people’s consent.
The move cracks down on a practice that’s been employed for years. Developers ask users for access to their phone contacts, then use it for marketing and sometimes share or sell the information – without permission from the other people listed on those digital address books. On both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, the world’s largest smartphone operating systems, the tactic is sometimes used to juice growth and make money.
I’ve always found it quite easy to spot applications that would try to abuse permissions like this – weather applications don’t need access to telephony, a notes application doesn’t need access to my contact list, and so on. It’s good to see Apple cracking down on this practice for those among us who aren’t as observant.