When we were looking at iPhones and address books, it turned out that every app on the iPhone was allowed to take a copy of the address book and upload it where ever it wanted without permission and without even notifying the user. It's hard to believe that Apple could not have seen this as a problem for users, if they empathized with users. How could they not? Don't they use their own devices?
I hate to think that all these companies have the names, addresses and phone numbers of pretty much everyone I've dated in the last few years. Every member of my family, every friend. I don't think there are any kids under 13 in there, but I'm sure some people keep contact information for their children, nieces and nephews or grandchildren in their address books?
The blase approach the industry took to this issue is only surprising if you assume they were surprised. I'm sure they weren't. When you think about the business models of most of the companies that get funded these days, you can see what a gold mine this information is. I read yesterday that Google doesn't care if you use Google Plus for anything, if you never come back. They just wanted your biographical info so they could target ads at you better. How much would they like to know the names and contact info for everyone who's important enough to make it into your address book.
When we were doing the investigation, it also turned up that photos were just as open to apps as contact info. Do you have any pictures on your phone of things you haven't uploaded because you don't want to share them with the world? Too bad. They're pretty much shared. Don't use your phone to take pictures of anything you wouldn't want everyone to see.
I'm not installing any software unless I personally know the developer and have heard them say in their own words that they are not doing anything mischievous with the data, and won't as long as they work for the company in question. And I sure as hell am not installing software from any companies whose business models are vague to me. Because I assume they will grab as much info as they can. Because I assume that's their business model. Better safe than sorry. Forewarned is forearmed.
BTW, one more thing -- the tech press is covering this story in slow motion. You should also be aware that any iOS app can access your calendar and your cellular carrier info. I haven't seen ths appear in any story that's been linked to from TechMeme.
PS: The camera on Android devices is even less secure.