updated 04:15 pm EST, Wed February 22, 2012
Apple, Google, Microsoft among groups with deals
California's Office of the Attorney General has secured agreements from several major corporations on improving privacy in mobile apps, according to a spokesman. Under the terms of the arrangement the companies will ask developers to include privacy policies for apps, informing users before a download what an app will access, as well as what will be done with the data. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, and Research in Motion have signed on.
In effect the plan expands California's Online Privacy Act to mobile apps, which the spokesman notes were previously totally unprotected. The state's decision comes in the wake of a privacy debacle, in which several apps such as Path, Foursquare, and Twitter were forced to changed the way they handle address books. The origin of the controversy stems from Path for iOS, which was found to be uploading address books in their entirety.
Apple has already stated that it will soon require iOS apps to get "explicit user approval" before reading contact data. The change will require an iOS firmware update, though, and Apple has not said when that will happen. The company maintains that accessing contacts without permission is already a violation of developer guidelines.