Ap­ple ends apps’ abil­ity to sell your con­tacts list

The Welland Tribune - - Business - HAY­LEY TSUKAYAMA

Ap­ple’s re­cently up­dated pol­icy for de­vel­op­ers on its App Store now pro­hibits apps from sell­ing in­for­ma­tion col­lected from your ad­dress book to other peo­ple.

The changes pro­hibit apps from us­ing Ap­ple’s ad­dress book or photos to “build a con­tact data­base for your own use or for sale/dis­tri­bu­tion to third par­ties.” Vi­o­lat­ing Ap­ple’s guide­lines can prompt the com­pany to re­move an app from its store. It’s not clear how many ap­pli­ca­tions would need to change their be­hav­iour be­cause of the new pol­icy.

Ap­ple’s new rules ad­dress a prob­lem that many tech­nol­ogy plat­forms face. Col­lect­ing and sell­ing in­for­ma­tion that’s un­re­lated to an app’s pur­pose is a known money-mak­ing tac­tic for un­scrupu­lous apps. Most re­cently, Face­book en­dured crit­i­cism dur­ing the Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica hear­ings for fail­ing to track how apps used the in­for­ma­tion it pro­vided to them.

Con­tact list data can be valu­able for com­pa­nies be­cause it al­lows them to gather in­for­ma­tion not only on the per­son who is us­ing the app, but also about their friends. That ex­tends the reach of their data col­lec­tion. Ad­dress books can in­clude the names, ad­dresses, email ad­dresses, pic­tures and birthdays of friends and fam­ily. For ex­am­ple, the This Is Your Dig­i­tal Life app cre­ated by devel­oper Alek­sandr Ko­gan was used by 53 peo­ple in Aus­tralia, yet al­lowed him to gather in­for­ma­tion on 310,000 peo­ple, the Guardian re­ported.

There are, how­ever, le­git­i­mate rea­sons that an app may need ac­cess to your ad­dress book. Apps, for ex­am­ple, may want to pull con­tacts from your phone to cre­ate a friends list or get an email ad­dress to share a pic­ture or ar­ti­cle. But now Ap­ple is be­ing stricter about the ways this data can be used.

Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook has been out­spo­ken on the need for pri­vacy pro­tec­tions for many years, of­ten putting his com­pany at odds with Face­book, Google and other firms that col­lect and sell per­sonal data. That con­flict es­ca­lated since Face­book’s in­volve­ment with Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica came to light.

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