If you have been able to stomach the recent back and forth between investors in Path (CrunchFunders Michael Arrington and MG Siegler) and the rest of the online space about CrunchFund investment Path’s use of contact data then you can say you have made it. Congrats. It has been painful to watch these cloistered Silicon Valley high priests act the fool but maybe it’s a necessary evil in today’s world. That’s one explanation at least.
To be fair, it is important to note that Path’s CEO Dave Morin, otherwise known as the “What NOT To Do With Your Users Data” poster child narced out the rest of the industry in his apology to the world. I say fair because it is Path’s mission to make sure they don’t bear the full brunt of this backlash.
Well, it looks like they have succeeded. The LA Tines reports about Twitter’s same process when it downloads contact information, which we now find out is a privacy no-no.
Twitter Inc. has acknowledged that after mobile users tap the “Find friends” feature on its smartphone app, the company downloads users’ entire address book, including names, email addresses and phone numbers, and keeps the data on its servers for 18 months. The company also said it plans to update its apps to clarify that user contacts are being transmitted and stored.
Well, how about that! What Morin had called somewhat facetiously, an “industry best practice” may very well be an industry standard.
In response to questions about the process, Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner said the company is planning an update to the language they use in the mobile app.
“We want to be clear and transparent in our communications with users,” Penner wrote in an email. “Along those lines, in our next app updates, which are coming soon, we are updating the language associated with Find Friends — to be more explicit. In place of ‘Scan your contacts,’ we will use “Upload your contacts” and “Import your contacts” (in Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android, respectively).
OOOOPS! Our bad!
Let’s be honest here. When you are allowing mobile apps on your phone you are allowing serious access to your data on that device and it is never truly that clear as to just how much data is being taken and stored by that app. Privacy is just a pretty word in the online space. it has lost its meaning and it is not likely to get it back unless people truly rebel and hit these apps where it hurts. I just don’t see that happening, do you?
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