Photo: Cellanr via Flickr
Path, the social networking app for smartphones, takes all the information in your phone’s address book and store it on the company’s servers.It was first discovered by developer Arun Thampi, who posted details of the privacy snafu to his blog.
This means when you launch Path on your phone, it scans your address book and sends all your contacts’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. and stores them on the company’s private servers.
Path has more than 2 million users.
Path’s CEO, Dave Morin, commented on Thampi’s blog to explain the issue:
Arun, thanks for pointing this out. We actually think this is an important conversation and take this very seriously. We upload the address book to our servers in order to help the user find and connect to their friends and family on Path quickly and efficiently as well as to notify them when friends and family join Path. Nothing more.
We believe that this type of friend finding & matching is important to the industry and that it is important that users clearly understand it, so we proactively rolled out an opt-in for this on our Android client a few weeks ago and are rolling out the opt-in for this in 2.0.6 of our iOS Client, pending App Store approval.
Even though Morin says Path takes your contacts to help you find other Path users, he doesn’t mention that it isn’t necessary to store that information on its servers. Plenty of apps including Facebook, Foursquare, and Instagram can scan your address book and let you know if a friend is using that service. But those apps don’t store your information on their servers.
In the end, there’s absolutely no reason for Path to hang on to your phone’s address book. Morin’s explanation fails to say why Path does this.
So what can you do if you use Path and are worried about your contact information being stored on the company’s servers? Shoot an email to [email protected] and ask for it to be removed. In Morin’s statement above, he says there’s a new update for the Android version of the app that allows you to opt-in to the address book scanning. They’re still working on an update for iOS.