Recently many users have been finding out something incredibly shocking: apps were not only accessing user information, but they were uploading ENTIRE address books (phone numbers, contact info, etc) and saving that data on their servers.
The knowledge that your personal contact information is on a server just being “stored” is not only scary but skeptical. Why would they upload it in the first place? Why use all of that server space for no reason? These questions, and many more, led many users to be incredibly angry especially since their trust and privacy was broken.
Hipster CEO, Doug Ludlow, decided to step forward and offer an apology by posting as a guest blogger on techcrunch.com.
“We blew it, we’re sorry, and we’re going to make it right.” He started off, and then followed that with when they “dropped the ball” on this.
Apparently after the “Find Friends” feature was integrated into the operating system it began using private information stolen from user’s phone books to offer suggestions on other friends. This feature, while useful, is a gross and neglectful act that not only serves to help the company rake in more money, but it abuses what trust the users willingly gave.
Doug Ludlow then stated how embarrassed and ashamed they were because of the situation. The terms of service for the “Find Friends” feature on the Apple operating system was described in a post by a Hipster user named Mark Chang and Doug agreed that all of Mark’s insightful criticisms of Hipster and the terms of service were, indeed, correct.
Thankfully the CEO of Hipster, Doug Ludlow, is working hard to fix the situation and to try and win back the favor of consumers. There will be a new update via iTunes in a few days that will significantly alter how the “Find Friends” feature operates. This mandatory update will remove the automatic data pulling of people’s contact books and make it so that you have to opt-in to that. Once the user agrees that Hipster can get that information, their entire address book will then be sifted through however, as Doug Ludlow explains, it won’t be over SLL connection.
Due to this harsh and damning violation of user privacy features CEO Doug Ludlow claims that Hipster will improve thanks to the situation. Additionally on February 17th Hipster will also host an “Application Privacy Summit” and during that summit they will discuss privacy concerns on mobile apps.
The summit will also be a pledge that will be adopted by Hipster in the hopes that other apps will also adopt it as well. The pledge will ensure that all user privacy data is protected and safe, with no violations and, when companies release new apps, those apps will be mindful of personal data.
Doug Ludlow finishes off his blog post apology stating that he understands Hipster messed up but that he hopes that it has served as an example to show others how to improve on user privacy and that they will continue to grow.