Jun 12, 2018

Apple limits how Apps can use iPhone owners' personal contacts

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Last week Apple began limiting how developers share information about iPhone owners’ contacts, per Bloomberg. This cuts out a practice that’s been used for years in which developers ask users for access to their phone contacts and sometimes use it for marketing purposes.

Why it matters: Sharing information about Facebook users’ friends without their explicit knowledge is what got Facebook in hot water with Cambridge Analytica in the first place. This move comes as Apple is looking to distance itself and its platform from the sorts of data abuse seen through Facebook's situation and the political backlash that comes with it.

The business: The newly-barred practice has occasionally been aimed at propping up revenue. The latest change also forbids selling those contact databases with third parties.

  • Apple has made very few changes to its rules on contact lists, per Bloomberg. There was one change Apple rolled out in 2012 to allow users to approve what data on contacts was uploaded by developers.

Be smart: Apple can’t change the fact that contact information has already been shared through this practice. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has been taking swipes at Facebook about user and data privacy, but this move on apps somewhat clashes with their expressed values.

The surprise: Apple made several other changes to its App Store rules last week at its annual developer conference — including banning cryptocurrency mining, changing its stance on free trials, and limiting tracking of web browsing — but this announcement of data sharing restrictions wasn’t made public at the conference.

Go deeper

Kenan Thompson and Hasan Minhaj to headline White House Correspondents' Dinner

Kenan Thompson on "SNL" in 2018. Photo: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC via Getty Images

Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured "Saturday Night Live" cast member, will host the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on April 25.

And Hasan Minhaj — host of Netflix’s "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj," and the entertainer at the 2017 dinner — will return as featured entertainer.

"Billions": Season 2020

Mike Bloomberg speaks at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., on Saturday. Photo: James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

Money alone can’t buy a presidential election, but it surely gets you VIP access.

Why it matters: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is duking it out with Billionaire Donald Trump, often on Billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Twitter and in ads on Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, all chronicled in Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post. 

Biometrics invade banking and retail

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Banks have been quietly rolling out biometrics to identify customers — verifying them by their fingerprint, voice or eye scan — and retailers like Amazon are getting into the game.

Why it matters: These companies are amassing giant databases of our most personal information — including our gait, how we hold our cellphones, our typing patterns — that raise knotty questions about data security and privacy.