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Anarchy in the App Store

With 600,000 apps to police, Apple has trouble keeping up with rule breakers
Anarchy in the App Store
Illustration by Chi Birmingham

Path bills itself as a social network that cares about privacy. For a while it was also an App Store outlaw. When iPhone users downloaded it through Apple’s popular storefront, the software surreptitiously sent a user’s entire contacts list—including e-mail addresses, names, and phone numbers—to the company’s servers. That wasn’t just creepy, it was a violation of Apple’s rules. An engineer in Singapore revealed the transgression on his blog in February, and Path co-founder Dave Morin got hauled into Apple’s headquarters to be grilled by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and other executives, according to people familiar with the meeting but not authorized by Apple to discuss it. As the Path controversy unfolded, it became clear that several other popular apps uploaded contacts as well.

Tim Cook
Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images