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16th Feb 2012 9:54am | By Editor
Ever wondered what you’re agreeing to when you download apps? Twitter and many others have been taking and storing your address book information, it has been revealed.
Last year’s big shocker to tech consumers was that the iPhone has software inbuilt that tracked and kept records of your location. Now app developers have been exposed in the common practice of scanning and storing all of your contacts phone numbers and details on servers – popular sites like Twitter and FourSqure have admitted that the details have stored for up to 18 months in their digital files.
Although few apps will action the downloading of your information without your permission, many will pop up a window giving you a simple instructions that your information is about to be scanned. However, some fail to let you know – one offender is the popular photo uploading app Instagram, according to tech website theverge.com.
After being accused of allowing third party apps free reign of personal information, Apple has pledged that they will limit these activities in new software upgrades and guidelines for developers – however, for many users the damage has already been done and personal information about their friends and family are sitting quietly on the files of companies they may have thought they could trust.
Two politicians from US congress have contacted Apple boss Tim Cook over “claims that the practice of collecting consumers’ address book contacts without their permission is common and accepted among iOS app developers.
“This raises questions of whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices adequately protect consumer privacy,” the statement reads.
Writer and designer Dustin Curtis recently put together an expose of what he believed were common practices amongst Apple’s developers, claiming that “there’s a quiet understanding among many iOS app developers that it is acceptable to send a user’s entire address book, without their permission, to remote servers and then store it for future reference. It’s common practice, and many companies likely have your address book stored in their database.”
He also claims in a recent blog entitled 'Stealing Your Address Book': "I did a quick survey of 15 developers of popular iOS apps, and 13 of them told me they have a contacts database with millons of records. One company's database has Mark Zuckerberg's cell phone number...and Bill Gates' cell phone number."
Now these practices have been exposed, many high profile app developers caught red-handed and under pressure from consumers are pledging to make wording on prompts to scan your contacts more obvious. However, all smartphone users are responsible for reading the terms and conditions and precautions displayed on most legitimate developer's sites - so easily skipped over and ignored by many.