Congressmen Want Apple to Answer on Address-Book Sharing

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Washington -- Another day, another letter from Congress to
an Internet company with concerns about information sharing online.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.),
the House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield
(D-N.C.), chairman of the House Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, want
Apple to address reports that the Path social-networking application, a third-party
app approved by Apple, collected address-book information from users of iOS
devices without asking if they wanted to share that data.

They questioned the adequacy of Apple's application development
and approval policies.

"This 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 congressmen said in their
letter.

 After a blogger and a
different iOS developer blogged about the issue, Path's CEO apologized and said
that going forward, users would be required to opt in to the
address-book-sharing feature.

Waxman and Butterfield's concern goes beyond Apple, however,
to whether collecting address-book contacts without consent is common practice
among outside companies developing apps for the iOS platform.

The congressmen have given Apple until Feb. 29 to answer several
questions, including on all iOS guidelines on privacy and data security, as
well as on which types of data Apple believes require affirmative consent from
the user before they are transmitted.

The Waxman/Butterfield missive is just the latest in a host
of letters to various companies from Congress over the past year, including
Google, Facebook, and Amazon, with regard to privacy policies and information
sharing.

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