NYT’s “PhotoSpy” Test App Highlights Users’ Photo and Video Privacy Issues!

By on February 29, 2012

Users Privacy Issue was the hot topic in the beginning of this month since many tech sources reported that iOS App developers can easily access to users address books and photos and can upload it on their private servers. It was really a striking matter for all folks struggling for human rights for privacy protection. So the matter was even discussed in the U.S. Congress which asked Apple to provide necessary information about their tools and techniques used for handling and protecting users’ private data.


Apple responded on the matter without sparing time and promised that the company will soon fix this issue and would incorporate the techniques in iOS apps (especially the apps related to location and sharing content with others) those will be quite helpful to protect users’ private info like contacts, photos, calenders and other content.

Today, New York Time reviews on the whole matter of privacy protection while using iOS apps. The site notes that for app developers, it is quite easy to hack your private data quietly once you allow permission to collect location information to run any app on your device.

After a user allows an application on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to have access to location information, the app can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers.

It is unclear whether any apps in Apple’s App Store are actually doing this. Apple says it screens all apps submitted to the store, and presumably it would not authorize an app that clearly copied a person’s photos without good reason. But copying address book data was also against Apple’s rules, and the company let through a number of popular apps that did so.

photospy app

Interestingly enough, The NYT has tested and confirmed this behavior by hiring an iOS developer to write a simple test application named “PhotoSpy” that demonstrates how a simple permission to access location information via a pop-up request is might be killer for you as it, in fact, allows developers to access  to your photos and videos stored in your photo library on the an iOS device.

When the “PhotoSpy” app was started up, it asked for access to location data. Once this was granted, it began siphoning photos and their location data to a remote server. (The app was not submitted to the App Store.)

Noticeably, Apple and its mobile app distributors have recently signed a new agreement with the California Attorney General’s office that asks the companies to provide facilities to users for making them able to test privacy policies associated with apps before downloading.

Apple is feeling the heat of mounting pressure on it over this issue and we can expect that the company would take some highly effective steps for protection of users’ private data and info associated with using apps. The company can assure that that apps can access only data clearly permitted by users by incorporating some appropriate fixes for app usage.

The Verge just reports that Apple is well aware of this issue and knows that photo and video access is a serious bug that should be fixed instantly….Apple has begun working for digging out this fix.

We spoke to sources familiar with the situation, and were informed that a fix is most likely coming for the loophole. According to the people we talked to, Apple has been made aware of the issue and is likely planning a fix with an upcoming release of iOS. Those sources also confirmed that the ability to send your photos and videos to a third-party is an error, not an intended feature. If we had to guess, the fix will likely come alongside a patch for Apple’s other recent security issue — the ability for apps to upload your address book information without warning.

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