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18 June 2012, 15:00

iOS 6 to ask if apps can access personal data

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MacRumors reports that, according to the release notes of the developer preview version of iOS 6, the operating system will request explicit user permission when an application attempts to access contacts, calendars, reminders and photos.

Previously, applications only needed to get permission to access the phone's geographical location data. With iOS 6, the dialog also appears when the media gallery is accessed as location meta-data is also included with photos. In the release notes, Apple points out that, when designing their apps, developers must take into account the possibility that a user may refuse to grant the requested permissions.

With these changes, Apple has responded to a number of incidents last spring in which various applications transferred data such as a users' address book entries over the internet and stored the data without requesting permission. The first such case was that of the Path social network application. Numerous other apps that were accessing users' personal data were subsequently discovered by The H's associates at c't and other publications.

The newly introduced requests give users more control over who they allow to access their data – but it also results in an increased number of permission requests. When even a simple camera application with email capability requests permission to access a users' location data as well as their contacts and photos, there is a danger that simply clicking through the dialogs could eventually become a matter of routine.


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