Path Reaches Settlement with FTC Over Address Book Privacy Concerns

path address bookEarly last year, the popular iOS app Path came under fire for uploading users' entire address books to company servers without alerting users or asking for authorization.

The scandal resulted in Apple locking down user data in iOS 6, requiring explicit permission before apps could access a users location, contacts, calendars, photos, and reminders.

Today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced that it has reached a settlement with Path. The agreement requires Path to establish a new privacy program, obtain independent privacy assessments for 20 years, and pay an $800,000 fine.

"Over the years the FTC has been vigilant in responding to a long list of threats to consumer privacy, whether it’s mortgage applications thrown into open trash dumpsters, kids information culled by music fan websites, or unencrypted credit card information left vulnerable to hackers," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “This settlement with Path shows that no matter what new technologies emerge, the agency will continue to safeguard the privacy of Americans."

The FTC alleged that Path's app was misleading and failed to offer the consumer any choice in whether his data was uploaded, and that Path violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children without getting parents' consent.

Path has posted a response to the settlement on its blog.

Top Rated Comments

GoldenJoe Avatar
148 months ago
Wait, so instead of making Path delete it's database of user address books, the Feds just took $800k for themselves? Am I missing something?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
148 months ago
This punishment is excessive, $800,000? I can think of some crimes far worse that our government has given less for....
I think it was a dumb thing to do but this will probably kill the company.

Ahhh sensationalism at its finest.
I develop software for a living.

If my boss told me to write code that uploads a user's address book to our servers, I would politely ask him to contact our legal department. If he refused or said the legal department is Ok with this, I would ask him to give me the order to write this code in writing and signed, and the written response from legal as well.

And in my company, it would be _him_ losing his job over this, not me.


Didn't Path delete their database shortly after the story broke?
Do thieves stay out of jail if the police recovers the money that was stolen?


Independent privacy assessments for 20 years and an $800k fine. Good thing we have the Government to protect us from ourselves!
Path can consider itself well-protected from itself.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aristotle Avatar
148 months ago
Wait, so instead of making Path delete it's database of user address books, the Feds just took $800k for themselves? Am I missing something?
No, you are not missing anything. The legal system is not about "justice" or setting things right. It is often a way for the state to enrich itself at the expense of others.

Have you heard of the phrase "Don't steal, the government hates competition"?

Governments view the mafia as their competition in areas such as extortion, racketeering and outright theft. When the government does it, it is legal.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sebimeyer Avatar
148 months ago
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "This settlement with Path shows that no matter what new technologies emerge, the agency will continue to safeguard the privacy of Americans."

Riiiiiight...

Data mining by huge companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and others excepted of course.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
148 months ago
I develop software for a living too. This is a bit unrelated but If I had an employee tell me something like that, I'd fire them on the spot. It's not your job to play lawyer, as you said "it would be _him_ losing his job over this, not me."
I wasn't raised in the USA. Maybe that makes a difference. Where I come from, you don't keep your mouth shut when you see unethical or illegal behaviour.

Why are you so convinced this was done with malicious intent?

You sound like Nancy Grace spouting off on something with no facts or knowledge of the situation. :rolleyes:

I don't know who Nancy Grace is, but with professional developers this kind of thing doesn't happen by accident. So there was intent.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonnysods Avatar
148 months ago
Who gets the $800k?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iphone se 4 modified flag edges

When to Expect the Next iPhone SE to Launch

Friday May 17, 2024 2:03 pm PDT by
It has been over two years since Apple released the third-generation iPhone SE, and rumors continue to surface about a new model. The latest word comes from The Information, which today reported that Apple plans to release a new iPhone SE with a design similar to the standard iPhone 14 in the spring of 2025. If this rumor is accurate, the iPhone SE would finally gain Face ID and a notch...
iOS 17

iOS 17.5 Bug May Also Resurface Deleted Photos on Wiped, Sold Devices [Updated]

Friday May 17, 2024 12:24 pm PDT by
A bug in iOS 17.5 is apparently causing photos that have been deleted to reappear, and the issue seems to impact even iPhones and iPads that have been erased and sold off to other people. A Reddit user wiped an iPad following Apple's guidelines in September of 2023 before selling it off to a friend. That friend updated the iPad to iPadOS 17.5 this week, and began seeing the Reddit user's old ...
iphone se 4 modified flag edges

iPhone SE 4 With Face ID Said to Be Priced Below $500

Monday May 20, 2024 3:43 am PDT by
Apple is targeting a sub-$500 starting price for its upcoming fourth-generation iPhone SE model despite a raft of rumored upgrades coming to the more affordable device. According to leaker Revegnus on X, the U.S. launch price of the fourth-generation iPhone SE will either remain at the same $429 starting price as the current model, or will see an increase of around 10%. Either way, Apple's...
iOS 17

Apple Releases iOS 17.5.1 With Fix for Reappearing Photos Bug

Monday May 20, 2024 10:11 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1, minor updates to the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 operating system updates that came out last September. The 17.5.1 updates come a week after the launch of iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5. iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1 can be downloaded on eligible iPhones and iPads over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update. According to Apple's...
iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Perspective

iPhone 16 Lineup Rumored to Come in These Two New Colors

Sunday May 19, 2024 11:08 am PDT by
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today outlined his expectations for the iPhone 16 lineup's color options, revealing that two new colors should replace two of the existing shades. Kuo outlined his expectations in a post on X (formerly Twitter) earlier today. He believes that the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will be available in black, white or silver, gray or "Natural Titanium," and rose....
oled m4 ipad pro grainy display reports

OLED iPad Pro Users Report 'Grainy' Displays, But It May Not Be a Defect

Friday May 17, 2024 5:57 am PDT by
Some new M4 iPad Pro models are exhibiting a visible static grain pattern across the OLED display, according to several user reports on Reddit (1, 2, 3) and the MacRumors Forums. Image credit: MacRumors user bk215 Users who see the grain generally report that it is most noticeable in dark environments with the display set at a low to medium brightness while viewing content with gray or muted...