Apple officially responded to the mounting privacy concerns related to how third-party iOS apps access address book data on users’ devices. Tom Neumayr, a spokesperson for the Cupertino, Calif.-headquartered gadget giant told AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski:

Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines. 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, there you have it. A forthcoming iOS software update will make sure no app can get access to iPhone contacts without your explicit approval. We are inclined to think Apple should not limit user approvals to just location data and contacts. While we are at it: Why not implement toggles for accessing the camera roll, photo library, and even your music library for that matter? This stuff is just waiting to be uploaded by rogue apps. By the time Apple discovers those violations and pulls misbehaving software from the App Store, it will already be too late and the damage will have been done. Any thoughts?

Apple’s unusually swift response came just hours after U.S. lawmakers published an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook that cited the Path scandal as an example of sub-par privacy practices on Apple’s part. Among other concerns laid out in the letter, the legislators argued, “This raises questions of whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices adequately protect consumer privacy.”

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