Invasion of Privacy – Path App Controversy

22 February 2012 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

Path confessed that it took users’ address book data without permission when the app loaded and admits it “made a mistake.”  Path’s app runs on the iPhone and Android and according to Path’s Story:

Path dreamed up and realized the Smart Journal–a journal that’s with you everywhere you go, posts entries without your effort, combines photo, video, music, people, places, and text, and most importantly, includes your loved ones.

As part of its confession Path declared that it deleted all data it illicitedly collected.  On Path’s About page it claims that its app accounts for “two million people sharing life with close friend and family over the world.” Ironically Path makes the following statement about describing “What is Path’s Privacy Policy?”:

At Path, we respect and value our users’ right to privacy. We want you to feel safe and secure as you share your life with the people you love.

In spite of Path’s confession that it took users’ address books without permission, if you take the time to review Path’s Privacy Policy does not say that Path takes users’ address book data rather states:

We actively collect certain information you voluntarily provide to us, such as when you create an account and profile, send us an email or post information or other content to our site.

No surprise that Path’s Terms of Use make no mention of collecting users’ address book data.

Actually it’s easy for apps to collection personal information since so few individuals bother to read Terms of Service or Privacy Policies where users might learn how their personal data is used.

Surely Path’s story is not unique and other apps collect information without disclosing their business practices to users. So stay tuned for more government regulation.

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