Privacy is of paramount importance to a user of smartphone devices today. And it becomes very hard to guard one’s data when most companies follow an opt-out model in which they automatically enroll users into a service and then give them the option to choose out of it. Here’s quite a shock for iPhone users: the free social media app, Path, automatically shifts all your contacts list to their servers as soon as you register with the app.
This was recently discovered by a blogger Arun Thampi. He was packet sniffing the app and he found that the app discreetly copies all your contacts in the list to their servers. When you create an account with Path, it makes the call, “https://api.path.com/3/contacts/add.” Now this is definitely a matter of huge concern for users because Path does not specifically tell this when a user signs up with it’s service. Also, Path does not specify why on Earth it requires to copy all the contacts of a user.
When this was revealed yesterday by Arun, it prompted a response from Path’s Co-founder and CEO, Dave Morin. Obviously, Arun’s expose’ was quite a shock for the users and so Morin immediately released a statement saying that Path will soon release an update to the app with which users can easily opt out of this particular setting. However, Morin didn’t state that what will happen to the contacts of users which are already on their servers and whether or not Path will delete them. According to him,
“We believe that this type of friend finding & matching is important to the industry and that it is important that users clearly understand it, so we proactively rolled out an opt-in for this on our Android client a few weeks ago and are rolling out the opt-in for this in 2.0.6 of our iOS Client, pending App Store approval.”
Nonetheless, the vital question remains that why did Path choose to do so without the explicit approval of the users. And whether or not their ought to be legal repercussions for such an act which compromises the user’s data.
Image courtesy William Hook.