updated 04:00 pm EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
Twitter, Facebook among scrutinized companies
The US Congress' House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman and chairman Fred Upton have issued a letter to 33 iOS developers, asking them about privacy policies when it comes to apps, reports say. A number of prominent developers are included in the list, such as Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, Turntable.fm, Path, and Tweetbot creator Tapbots. The letter actually claims that 34 developers have been contacted, but only 33 are mentioned.
"The [developers'] apps were selected for the inquiry based on their inclusion in the 'Social Networking' subcategory within the 'iPhone Essentials' area of Apple’s App Store," the letter explains. Each developer is being asked to explain how they comply with Apple privacy policies, how they gather user information in apps, and what's done with the data afterwards. In all the letter includes eight questions; special emphasis is placed on address book and device data, and what data sharing developers think requires user consent according to Apple guidelines. The letter asks for information to be delivered before April 12th, although there are unlikely to be any penalties for non-compliance.
The request for privacy information traces back to a controversy involving the Path iOS app, which was discovered to be uploading entire address books. Various apps were forced to change the way they handle data, and Apple itself received a different letter from Congress asking for a reply by February 29th.