ASHINGTON — Two US lawmakers asked Apple on Wednesday about reports that applications running on the company’s popular devices may access private data without permission.
Representatives Henry Waxman and G.K. Butterfield sent a letter to Apple chief executive Tim Cook following reports that social networking app Path collected stored address book information without explicitly asking for a user’s consent.
“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,” they said.
Waxman, a Democrat from California, and Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina, asked “how many iOS apps in the US iTunes Store transmit information from the address book?
“How many of those ask for the user’s consent before transmitting their contacts’ information?” they asked.
In a blog post last week, Path co-founder and chief executive David Morin apologized for uploading users’ address book information without asking for permission.
“We made a mistake,” Morin said. “We are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts.”
Path released updated applications modified to ask users whether they would like to opt in or out of letting the service use personal contact lists to help them connect with friends or family at the social network.
Apple reviews applications created by independent software developers before featuring them in its online App Store.