Company made to establish long-term privacy program
To settle charges of obtaining personal data from children without parental consent, Path has agreed to pay an $800,000 fine and set up a privacy program, the US Federal Trade Commission has announced. To comply with privacy concerns, Path will moreover have to get independent privacy assessments performed every other year for the next 20 years. The core issue is only indirectly related to problems with the handling of address book data; specifically, the FTC has been investigating the age gate system in Path's iOS app, which it says led to violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, better known as COPPA.
New version will now require explicit permission for info access
Apple's forthcoming iOS 6 will contain a change in app permissions, one that is aimed at increasing user privacy in the wake of embarrassing security breaches involving iOS apps. In the new version of iOS, apps will be prohibited from accessing certain user information without explicit user consent.
Path Android gaining iOS app features
Users of Path can now use Lenses on the Android version (Free, Google Play) of the social network-enabled photo sharing app. Lenses, available to iOS Path members for the last year, allow the user to apply filters to the viewfinder, before taking the photograph itself.
Path set to arrive on WP7
The popular social networking Path (Free, App Store) is under development according to the company’s CEO Dave Morin. Currently the app is only available on iOS and Android (Free, Google Play) and already has a user base of over 2 million. Morin said that although the iOS platform accounts for 80 percent of its development time, he believes that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS is ‘impressive.’
Apple, Path, Facebook, others in lawsuit sights
A new lawsuit (below) filed last week and uncovered on Friday by CNET could try and take Apple and key iOS app writers to task for alleged unapproved contact access. The potential class action case accuses those who've admitted to any access, such as Path, Twitter, and Instagram, of violating privacy by becoming "mobile radio beacons" that were "broadcasting and publicly exposing" contact lists to everyone. Questionably, however, it also names the developers of numerous other unverified apps of doing the same thing, including Beluga, Burbn, Chillingo, EA, Facebook, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Hipster, Gowalla, Kik, LinkedIn, Rovio (Angry Birds), and ZeptoLab (Cut the Rope).
Contact book issue results in rare dressing down
The co-founder of Path, Dave Morin, was recently called over to Apple headquarters to be "grilled" by CEO Tim Cook and some other company executives, according to Bloomberg. The news agency cites "people familiar with the meeting" as sources. The ultimate outcome of the event is unmentioned in the new report.
Instagram on Android briefly shown at SXSW
Instagram's co-creator Kevin Systrom used a presentation at South by Southwest's technology conference to show the Android version of the company's app. Currently in a closed beta, it will support multiple screen resolutions and should run very quickly. Although shy on what it meant, he hinted that there would be some features that the iOS edition was so far lacking, if not permanently going without.
Path gets big Nike and music updates
Path updated its self-titled iOS app (App Store) Thursday to uniquely combine features from other activities in its social stream. By using a newly available API to plug other services into Path, the title can now automatically posts Nike+ GPS runs as generated by the Nike app, taking them once they've reached the cloud. A Shazam-like music matching feature can now identify nearby music and provide a link to buy it in iTunes.
Path scandal raises data collection worries
US House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Commerce Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee Chair G.K. Butterfield have together sent a letter to Apple, asking whether "iOS app developer policies and practices may fall short when it comes to protecting the information of iPhone users and their contacts," notes The Next Web. The letter quotes sections of the iOS Developer Center site, where Apple says it provides a collection of tools and frameworks for storing, accessing, and sharing data, and questions whether Apple requires apps to ask permission before sending personal data. Also quoted is the Dustin Curtis article Stealing Your Address Book -- which says that "there’s a quiet understanding among many iOS app developers that it is acceptable to send a user’s entire address book, without their permission" -- and a report that suggests developers may have the contact details of people like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Company criticized for holding data
Twitter has reportedly admitted that it currently stores smartphone contact information for 18 months after users initiate the "find friends" feature found in the company's mobile apps. The data stored on the company's servers includes address book fields such as names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
Path deletes user contact lists, outs Path 2.0.6
Smartphone app developer Path has apologized and fixed the tendency of its app to collect user's entire contact lists to its own servers when the app is first launched. The Android app was already fixed, and now, the developers have released an updated iOS app, version 2.0.6 (free, App Store) that won't upload the data without a user's permission. Dave Morin, Path's co-founder and CEO, also explained that the contacts were used only in the Add Friends features to notify users when their contacts log into the app.
Facebook music and video sharing unveiled at f8
Facebook continued its string of news at f8 by detailing its media sharing. Part of a new system of verbs that replace the generic Like, it focuses most on music: users can spot someone listening to a song in the live ticker and start listening to the same track. Services will still need to launch the separate app if it exists, but the method will let anyone listen to similar content if it exists in a subscription service.
Facebook iPhone app to merge Instagram, Path, With
A discovery Wednesday has shown that Facebook is developing a second iPhone app that would make it a prime contender to Instagram and other social photo apps. Nicknamed either Hovertown or WithPeople, the app would show both individual photos and events while exploiting the nearly 700 million-strong social network. Photos seen in the TechCrunch sighting would get the same likes as regular Facebook content but would show photos tagged with a friend's face.