Apple Urged To Fix Apps That Access Address Books

Apple is under pressure by consumers and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to enforce its rules when it comes to iPhone apps that upload users address books. Several social media apps, such as Facebook and Twitter, can gain access to a phone's address book, and users often aren't warned what's happening.

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Apple is under pressure to crackdown on iPhone apps. Apps designed for all kinds of things that once on your phone upload your address book without your consent.

NPR's Martin Kaste has more.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: This issue first bubbled up last week, when a social media app called Path was revealed to be uploading address books without permission. The company quickly apologized and changed its practices, but now it seems Path was just the tip of the iceberg.

Many social media apps upload address books with varying standards of disclosure and permission. Some also hold on to those contacts. Twitter now says it keeps them for up to 18 months. The situation is getting attention on Capitol Hill.

REPRESENTATIVE HENRY WAXMAN: We've written to Apple about it.

KASTE: Congressman Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, says the iPhone's maker needs to take more responsibility.

WAXMAN: Either they're not aware this sort of thing is happening, and I want to know why they weren't aware of it. Or if they are aware of it, I want to know why they haven't made sure that there's a policy for any of the apps that they approve on the Apple system to make the consumers aware of what's going on and to get their permission before their privacy is invaded.

KASTE: In a prepared statement, Apple said future iPhone software will require, quote, "explicit user approval" before apps can gain access to address books.

Martin Kaste, NPR News.

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