Apps on iOS 6 will require explicit permission to access personal data

Users of Apple devices equipped with the upcoming iOS version 6 will be explicitly warned when the app they are trying to install asks permission to access their contacts, calendars, reminders and their photo library.

Mac Rumors reports that the change has been detailed in the “Data Privacy” section in Apple’s iOS 6 Release Notes, notifying app developers that their app “needs to be prepared to be denied access to these items and to adjust its behavior accordingly.”

So far, applications for the iOS platform only had to ask permission for accessing the device’s geolocation information.

This latest move is, in all likelihood, a direct consequence of the recent discoveries that some of the most popular iOS apps copy the contents of the users’ address books and calendars and send it to company servers without unequivocally notifying the users about it and sometimes even without asking for permission.

Apple’s move seems logical and will certainly be welcomed by those users who are worried about privacy.

Still, its effectiveness depends on the willingness of app developers to comply with the instructions and on the users themselves, and neither group has a great record of doing what they are told or of thinking critically about what a specific permission means for them and for the data they have on their device.

Unfortunately, this might turn out to be just another annoying step to click through for most users. But we already know that there is no silver bullet in security – we can only take one step at the time towards the goal, and this is a step in the right direction.

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