Taking our suggestion from this morning -- at least we would like to think Apple reads our site -- Apple has changed its policy on granting apps access to iPhone user contacts. Following the discovery that slews of apps have uploaded entire iPhonebooks to their own servers, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD's John Paczkowski that soon Apple will require explicit user permission for this data. "Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines," he said. "We’re working to make this even better for our customers, and as we have done with location services, any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release."
So, just like apps that want location information, there will be a standardized, mandatory pop up message prompting contact details. That's great, but it's a little concerning that it took blogger and political outrage for Apple to create a policy it should have already had. Yes, not only did the Internet scream about the oversight, this afternoon legislators probed Apple about the privacy concern. The Path issue "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," wrote representatives Henry Waxman and G.K. Butterfield in a letter via Reuters. The representatives requested a response by February 29th. Apple, recognizing the problem with their policy, as well as the power of the Internet -- which would have continued its hissy fit until Apple responded -- got ahead of the issue with this very easy way out. Yet, the move might come too late, as Apple's stock is slipping, currently trading below the $500 mark, after hitting a $526 high today.