Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Apple has taken on quite a few volleys of catapulted insults from the Android community for its closed model concerning applications. Apple’s response for the interest of the iPhone user community is its main concern. These measures are for the protection of those using Apple iOS devices, it tells the critics. For the most part, this can be verified by the many studies showing the malware infection rate to be much higher on Android while it is near extinct on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. However, in recent weeks, Apple has come under a new threat of attack from within its beloved users.

Recently, it was discovered that a popular social media app, Path, had uploaded the complete address book of the user to Path’s servers without any notification or authorization. Path apologized for the matter once it was caught with its pants down and quickly resolved the mistake with an update to the AppStore that removed all users address book uploads on Path’s servers and asked for permission to upload them, again.

Path is not the only application taking your private information and using it for its own gain. Popular applications such as Foursquare (Email, Phone Numbers, withoug warning) and Instagram (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last, without warning) have also been found to steal your data by Paul Haddad, the developer behind the popular Twitter client TapBot. Of course once the cat was let out of the bag, these two applications were updated with stronger and clear warnings. Other applications have also come under the spot light for such practices in the last week as well.

So, the question really is, what other applications are stealing my private information without my knowledge? Why isn’t Apple enforcing it’s own rules not to do this which is explicit in its developers terms of use? Steve Jobs told the D8 Conference in 2010, “No, Silicon Valley is not monolithic. We always have had a different view on privacy than some of our colleagues in the Valley. We take privacy extremely seriously.” Yet all these applications made it through Apple’s stringent approval process AND stayed in the AppStore once the vulnerabilities were discovered. Interestingly enough, Apple has done a wonderful job of insuring tether applications either do not make it to the AppStore or are quickly removed once discovered in the wild.

I think what Jobs really meant is it takes its carrier relations more serious than anything. Again, look at the contrast to Apple’s quick response to applications that circumvent carrier data plans terms of use over Apple’s own privacy policy. AT&T has been very vocal against tethering and hot spot applications and Apple has been quick to insure AT&T continues its nickle-and-dime game like a brown nosed kid working his way up the corporate ladder. I understand this is business and you need to keep your partners happy; however, if your immortal co-founder makes such a big deal about privacy, shouldn’t you be as diligent if not MORE than you are for something that doesn’t harm any ones personal lives?

Apple either needs to use the same blind eye for tether apps as it does for privacy concerns or stand behind its publicly spoken policy. Put up or shut up, Apple.


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