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Apps copying address book

The address book of most smartphones contain a complete list of the owners friends and family, rich pickings for apps.

Companies that make popular apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms have been found to be secretly copying the contents of the address book to their services, often without the persmission of the owner.

Apple, which approves all apps that appear in its iTunes store, addressed the controversy Wednesday after lawmakers sent the company a letter asking how approved apps were allowed to take address book data without users’ permission. Apple’s published rules on apps expressly prohibit that practice.

But in its statement about the issue, Apple did not address why those apps that collect address book data had been approved.

An Apple spokesman, said: “Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines. 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.”

The Federal Trade Commission regulates the use of consumers’ data on the Internet, and in the past it has sanctioned big companies like Facebook and Google over privacy issues. It said Wednesday that it would make no comment about the app makers’ practices.

AppTrust requirements expressily prohibit apps from copying or transmitting information stored in other parts of the phone to remote servers.

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