Earlier this week it was discovered that a few applications on the iPhone and iPad (As well as other smart phones it must be said) where secretly uploading our address book data to remote servers and I find this shocking–not because these apps were doing it–but more because Apple allowed it.
Don’t get me wrong this is not the end of the world. It’s not like the info has been sent off somewhere to form the basis of a new spamming empire the likes of which the world has never seen–but I don’t think that’s the point.
When the story broke the companies responsible claimed that it was “common practice” and that “everyone was doing it.” They stood in front of cameras and behind blogs and unashamedly claimed that this was routinely practiced by the likes of Facebook and Twitter and that was just the way things were in this day and age.
I don’t feel slighted by these manufacturers and I believe that their motives were more functional than sinister. In fact I would go so far as to say I am certain of it because far from skulking away in the shadows the developer of the app that started the whole mess of media mayhem – a little social media app known as Path – issued an apology on their website and promised to change practice immediately.
Apple too announced that in future all apps that want or need your private data must ask for it first and it is this, more than anything, that disappoints me about Apple; stammering and apologising when their shoulder shrugging was exposed by the media and taken up by the US Senate.
When Apple decided that their approach to the mobile phone market and the resulting applications was to be a closed system it instantly became their responsibility to make sure that everything was done properly, honestly and with integrity. Just over a year ago they took it upon themselves–without media controversy and government scrutiny to motivate them–to ensure that location services were transparent and obvious so your whereabouts would never be disclosed without your permission.
In short I trusted Apple to look after me and protect my data because I chose to use a product that was malware and virus free and tested rigourously before it arrived at my door. Now while it’s true that this is not malware and it’s not sinister it does make me wonder what else they are not doing.
For those of you that use Facebook and Twitter and various other social media apps; it has been announced that many of these applications are coming up with updates that will ask for your explicit permission before sharing information. Apple are also going to release a software update for the phone that will force them to make this change in any case.