Archive for April, 2009

Better Privacy Control Needed for iPhone

April 24, 2009

A newly downloaded iPhone application can’t locate you without your explicit approval. You get the message “Application X would like to use your current location.” Why isn’t this privacy control extended to other, more sensitive areas of the device? As it stands, a new app needs no permission to open a network connection, activate your microphone and camera, access all of your photos, or read your entire address book, and there’s no restriction on what of that information can be sent out to any server anywhere.

Because the iPhone is a closed device (meaning you can’t install any low-level controls) there’s no way to see what your apps are doing with any of your private data, aside from your location. On the desktop, we have some rudimentary safeguards available, such as the LittleSnitch application, but there’s nothing like this for iPhone, and no possibility of anyone but Apple making such a thing.

The iPhone’s location privacy control is a good thing. I’d like to see that extended to other areas of the device.