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Money Minute: Data theft? There's an app for that [Video]

February 15, 2012|By David Lazarus

Is your address book community property? Some app makers seem to think so.

The buzz in the tech world is that a number of high-profile apps, including Facebook and Twitter, routinely access and rip off smartphone users' contacts. The apps in question run on Apple's iOS andGoogle's Android operating systems.

The practice hit the spotlight after a techie noticed that Path, a social network, was uploading entire address books without users’ permission. The company has since said it will stop the practice and get rid of all the purloined data.

But if numerous other apps are doing the same thing, this is clearly a larger issue than just one skulky website. Some are now calling for Apple and Google to crack down on these contact-robbing apps by blocking them from their respective app boutiques.

That's a good first step. But I say that stealing people's contacts is theft, pure and simple, and law enforcement agencies should get involved.

I also say that I'm not surprised by any of this. In the social-media era, what's mine is mine, and what's mine is yours. Does anyone really own their data anymore when we give it away so freely?

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