Dev Discovers Path App Uploading Entire iPhone Address Book to its Servers
The popular and elegant mobile social networking app, Path, has come under heavy criticism after developer Arun Thampi discovered that the app uploads users’ address books to its servers without asking for permission. The whole ordeal was discovered by Thampi when he encountered the back-end feature while attempting to hack the application to run on the Mac OS X. After he went public with the news, it sparked quite a bit of backlash from users who viewed the address book upload as a violation of their privacy.
The Path CEO, Dave Morin, quickly responded to Thampi by clarifying that the upload was meant to help users find their friends. The Android version of Path recently switched to opt-in and Morin said that an update to the iPhone version would also be switched to opt-in and was awaiting approval from Apple. The address book upload feature even seems to appear to violate Apple’s own App Store guidelines. Apple clearly states that “apps cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the users’ prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used.”
The Cupertino California company has taken a strong vocal stance on protecting its customers’ privacy on the App Store. This was seen when the company unveiled its in-app subscriptions feature for the storefront last year, where it stated that privacy is “a key feature of all App Store transactions.” Publishers initially argued against Apple’s insistence that subscriber details should not be automatically forwarded to them.
Path launched in 2010 as a social journal that was meant to be more private than other broader social networking services like Facebook or Twitter. Although the application received good reviews, it failed to gain much traction until its relaunched last November. After its relaunch, the app’s user base grew from 10,000 to 300,000 in just two and a half weeks. It should be noted that Path isn’t alone in implementing this debatable feature. Several developers have reported that other apps do the “exact same thing.”
Source: Arun Thampi (blog)