Path’s Privacy Problems Aren’t Path’s – They’re Apple’s

The world is up in arms about how the mobile application Path, which I covered here as one of the next social networks to watch, has been sending users’ phone directory data back to the service. As someone that knows the founders and trusts what they’ll do with the data, I didn’t give it a second thought, but the concern is valid. I’d like to suggest that the problem isn’t Path’s though. In fact I warned about this before.

4 years ago, back in 2008, as Apple launched their own app platform and directory for developers to the public, the mobile app Loopt went through a similar controversy where it automatically sent an SMS to everyone in the user’s phone directory, without their permission. In this case, just like Path, the service assumed that users would be okay with sharing this data in order to make the service better. In both cases, there were many offended that this was happening.

I responded with an article of my own (again, this was in 2008!), suggesting that Apple needs privacy controls on their devices. Before any application can access phone numbers and other sensitive data from the phone, the operating system itself should be warning users that data is being retrieved, and ask the user’s permission. In fact, Android devices already do this to an extent, and services like Facebook do this before any application can access sensitive data about an individual.

It’s hard to believe that Apple has taken 4 years, and still hasn’t implemented any such controls. It’s, to me, not too much of a worry that apps like Loopt and Path are accessing this data, as both apps are good companies run by good people that have good intentions for this data. However, there are many applications out there that may not have such good intentions. In every case, it should be up to the user to decide, and know when their personal data is being transferred to a 3rd party application on their device.

So I’d like to turn the argument back around to Apple, not Path – why are you allowing 3rd party applications to access my data without my permission? It’s time well overdue to give users some control over their sensitive data.

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jessestay

Jesse Stay has been a pioneer in the space of social media marketing since before it was called "social media marketing". Originally a software developer, Jesse built a tool called SocialToo.com which helped brands like Pepsi, Brittany Spears, and MC Hammer grow their social media presence, and before he knew it brands were coming to him for help to grow their presence in very unique ways. His tool was featured on almost every tech blog and even mainstream news sites like New York Times, Techcrunch, and Mashable. Jesse also spent a brief period working FOR Facebook, Inc., helping them to build out their documentation to help companies integrate Facebook Connect into their websites and mobile apps. Jesse took his skills and helped the LDS Church kick off most of its social media programs. While there he helped launch the award-winning "I'm a Mormon" marketing campaign with global reach worldwide in the millions of views and followers. Jesse established new global programs at the Church to further grow its reach amongst both members and non-members of the Church, working with every department of the Church, also including entities like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Brigham Young University. He also helped the Church navigate its voice and presence during the Mitt Romney Presidential campaign due to the significant attention the Church was getting at the time. He established the social media advertising techniques and strategies employed at Deseret Digital Media growing over 20 million fans across their news properties in just 6 months, and was featured on AdWeek for his success. As founder and Principal of Stay N Alive, Jesse has developed very unique techniques in social media advertising to help organizations grow presences, within months on minimal budgets, into hundreds of thousands of highly relevant and engaging fans and followers. He designed and teaches social media advertising at LDS Business College. He has helped grow sales, and has a belief that yes, you CAN measure social! Jesse has been featured as one of 10 entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter (next to Biz Stone and Ev Williams, founders of Twitter) by Entrepreneur magazine. Jesse has written 9 books on the topic of social media marketing and development, including Google+ Marketing For Dummies and Facebook All In One For Dummies, and eats, lives, and drinks social media with a personal combined presence of over 600,000 followers on his personal social profiles.

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