* Apple installs new rules for developers
* U.S. legislators request information about Apple privacy
By Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 15 Under pressure from
U.S. legislators, Apple Inc moved Wednesday to quell a
swelling privacy controversy by saying that it will begin to
require iPhone and iPad apps to seek "explicit approval" in
separate user prompts before accessing users' address book data.
Apple's move came shortly after two members of the U.S.
House Energy and Commerce committee requested the company to
provide more information about its privacy policies. Bloggers,
in recent days, have published findings that some of the most
popular software applications in Apple's App Store have been
able to lift private address book data without user consent.
"Apps that collect or transmit a user's contact data without
their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines," an
Apple spokesman told Reuters. "We're working to make this even
better for our customers, and as we have done with location
services, any app wishing to access contact data will require
explicit user approval in a future software release."
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 earlier on Wednesday to clarify
its developer guidelines and the measures taken by the company
to screen apps sold on its App Store.
The letter came 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 uploaded 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 cast 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 had asked Apple to submit its response by