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Path runs screaming from privacy snafu

We meant to copy your address book but we didn’t think you’d mind

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After sparking an outcry – and arguably putting itself on the wrong side of privacy laws outside America – ex-Facebooker and now CEO of Path, Dave Morin, has blogged an apology.

The furor surrounding the application broke with this blog post, in which a Path fan analysed the app’s behavior and discovered that it copied a user’s entire address book to its servers – without permission and in the clear.

Morin originally responded that “friend finding & matching is important to the industry” (our emphasis), but said the upload of the address book was only used to help users connect to friends and family, and “notify them when friends and family join Path.”

His promise of an update to turn the feature into an opt-in didn’t mollify users, who demanded to know what would happen to data already held by the “personal network” company without their permission.

Those complainants now have their answer: the data has been deleted, according to Morin’s blog post. Morin adds a pint liter of mea culpa stirred in with a couple of spoonfuls of “deeply sorry” and a pinch of “complete transparency”.

While still claiming that users are “completely in control”, anybody who abandons their good senses and uploads their entire address book to the company – and then changes their minds – will have to rely on an e-mail to Path’s customer service to request deletion. ®

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