Lawmakers question Apple CEO Cook about privacy


Apple CEO Tim Cook (Getty Images)

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) sent a letter on Wednesday to Cook asking if Apple’s policies ensure developers can’t share or collect user data — such as iPhone contact lists — without permission.

The concern comes after Path, an online diary, said it collected and stored users’ iPhone contact lists without explicitly asking for permission to do so. When launching the app, Path automatically uploaded contact data in order to “find friends” to connect to on the social networking app.

Twitter has also admitted it collects and stores users’ contact lists from devices without specific permission, according to this story by the Los Angeles Times.

The lawmakers say the practice “raises questions about whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices may fall short when it comes to protecting the information of iPhone users and their contacts.”

Waxman and Butterfield, ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Cook how many apps grab information from users’ iPhone contact lists and whether the apps ask for permission from users to access that data. They asked for Cook to answer by Feb. 29 how Apple vets app developers and their use of data from devices.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Related:

Beware of privacy policies, how to clean up your digital footprint

Google privacy shift to have bigger affect on Android users, Experts say

Google announces sweeping privacy changes

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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