• Michael Weeding

Concerned about Apps accessing your address book? This is what you should know.

It is nice when an App that you are using offers to assist in finding your friends online? What you may not be aware is that by accepting this request what you have done is allowed the App direct access to your address book. As a result the data contained in your address book is uploaded to their servers to complete the matching process. If that concerns you here is what you should know?

The first point to note is this is not a new phenomenuem, Apple came under fire for allowing Apps to access a users address book without their knowledge back in 2012. The changes that they implemented meant that any Apps wanting access to address books had to request the users permission.

So at least for iOS you are notified and accept the request to allow any Apps you download access to your address book, for Android you will find that the Apps declare their intent which you accept when you download the App as opposed to requesting permission.

Now when it comes to your most popular Apps you will find they encrypt the data using techniques such a hashing to ensure that the data is stored and matched through hashes rather than full text or phone numbers. This way no one ever sees or can gain access to the real data.

What is not really that clear is how long the information is retained and more importantly how this information is used beyond the matching service. Adding to the confusion is the fact that every App probably has a different approach to data retention and usage.

So if this concerns you the solution is easy. For iPhone users just access your Settings, select Privacy and then Contacts and you will see a list of Apps that are currently accessing your address book. You can deny access to each App through the sliders available within this screen.

For Android the process is not that straight forward. Google are yet to provide a feature that allows users to control what personal data the Apps which have been downloaded access so it is important to read and understand the permission when installing the App. If you do not like what the App is intending to do then do not download it.

So now you know, so it is up to you to manage who accesses your address book!


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