Does Apple allow apps to steal your address book?
You might have never heard about Path - and that probably is not a huge omission. What you should know, though, is that the application would access and basically steal your whole address book and upload it to its own servers. And yes - the very same address book with all of your contacts and their information.
How is this possible? Turns out, it’s not just about Path - it’s about Apple and iOS in general. Dustin Curtis dug into the issue and polled 15 social app makers whether they can access the address book on your iPhone. The answer? Yes, for 13 out of those 15 app makers!
So basically, in this case, Apple seems to go with the quiet, ludicrous assumption that it’s okay for applications to be able to access your whole contact list. Moreover, this has somehow flown under the news radar for a while. Some of the apps even brag about having Mark Zuckerberg’s and Bill Gates’ phone numbers.
In the case of Path, which blew up the scandal, the app that is the gateway for a social network for closer friends, would suggest you contacts by just picking data from your own address book.
Curtis argues that in a competitive environment like the App Store any opportunity to have wider exposure is used by developers. The address book falls into that category - some programmers seem to think that they can even use this information to better place their apps. And it’s really something that developers should also be blamed for, but on the flipside of things, if Apple allows it - why not? The big problem is Apple which makes it very, very easy to get access to address book data.
That’s strange because all other parts of iOS seem heavily protected. Applications can’t even access pictures from your camera roll and location is also well guarded. We’ll definitely look for an official explanation from Apple about this - stay tuned.