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Path updates iOS app with ‘opt-in’ contacts upload, apologizes to users

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When it comes to handling a PR crisis, the best bet is to be 100 percent honest and transparent with your customers, and to act as quickly as possible to fix the problem. And that is exactly what social network app company Path has done.

As many of you likely already know, a developer discovered on Tuesday that the latest version of Path (“Path 2”) for iOS was uploading users’ entire address books to the Path servers without first getting explicit user consent. A bombardment from the media (Digital Trends included) followed. And Path’s co-founder and CEO David Morin quickly responded, saying a new version with an “opt-in” feature would be out soon.

Well, that time has come. In a letter sent out to the media and posted on the company blog, Path announced that version 2.0.6 has been approved by Apple, and is now ready for download. (If you already have Path, simply update the app.) In addition, the company has apologized to users, saying what it did “was wrong.”

“Through the feedback we’ve received from all of you, we now understand that the way we had designed our ‘Add Friends’ feature was wrong,” writes Morin. “We are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts.

“In the interest of complete transparency we want to clarify that the use of this information is limited to improving the quality of friend suggestions when you use the ‘Add Friends’ feature and to notify you when one of your contacts joins Path––nothing else. We always transmit this and any other information you share on Path to our servers over an encrypted connection. It is also stored securely on our servers using industry standard firewall technology.”

Morin adds that, “as a clear signal of our commitment to your privacy,” Path has completely deleted all of the user data it previously collected. In version 2.0.6 of Path, users can decide whether to “opt-in” to let Path access contacts. And if any user would like to opt out later, he or she can send an email to service@path.com, and the company “will promptly see to it that your contact information are removed.”

The current Android version of Path was updated recently with the opt-in feature.

As we noted earlier today, it is not entirely clear how Path and other apps (like Hipster) were allowed to access user contact data without explicit consent. Apple’s iOS API clearly gives app developers the ability to add this feature, but also says in its guidelines that apps must get user permission before accessing any “data about the user.” We asked Apple for comment on the matter, but they have still not responded. Perhaps they were just busy rushing the new version of Path through the approval process.

[Image via Mr_MW/Shutterstock]

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Andrew Couts
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