| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 15 U.S. legislators on
Wednesday sought more information from Apple Inc
regarding its privacy policies, pulling the iPhone manufacturer
into a swelling controversy over how developers on its popular
iOS mobile platform have been able to access users' private
address book data.
In a letter addressed to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook,
Representatives Henry Waxman of California and G.K. Butterfield
of North Carolina, both Democrats on the House Energy and
Commerce Committee, asked Apple to clarify its developer
guidelines and the measures taken by the company to screen apps
that are sold on its App Store.
The letter comes after Path, a San Francisco startup that
makes a Facebook-like social networking app, attracted
widespread criticism last week after a Singaporean developer
discovered that Path's iPhone app had been quietly uploading his
contacts' names and phone numbers onto Path's servers.
In the following days, other technology bloggers discovered
that iPhone apps like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and
Foodspotting similarly uploads user data - without permission,
in some cases.
The Path incident "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," the letter said.
The legislators' request for information casts the spotlight
squarely onto Apple for the first time since an independent
blogger, Dustin Curtis, wrote in a widely distributed post last
week 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."
Curtis blamed Apple, writing that he could not "think of a
rational reason for why Apple has not placed any protections on
Address Book in iOS."
In their letter to Apple, Waxman and Butterfield, referenced
Curtis' blog post, adding: "There could be some truth to these
The legislators requested Apple to submit its response by
Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.