Apple is to set additional restrictions on how third-party applications collect user data following scrutiny from government officials and outcry from users.
The company said that it would be forcing developers to obtain explicit permission from users prior to accessing any information stored in the user's address book.
The change comes as the company came under fire from government and consumer groups for the way it handles third-party applications on its devices.
Earlier this month, users discovered that the Path social networking platform was collecting and uploading user information without prior permission. Path has since apologised and deleted the data, claiming that the collected information was stored securely and only used for 'add friend' recommendations on the service.
US officials, however, are now looking to Apple for answers. In a letter to chief executive Tim Cook, Congressmen GK Butterfield and Henry Waxman asked the company to present detailed information about its App Store privacy policies and how it keeps apps from accessing user data.
"This incident raises questions about whether Apple’s iOS app developer policies and practices may fall short when it comes to protecting the information of iPhone users and their contacts," the congressmen said in the letter.
"The fact that the previous version of Path was able to gain approval for distribution through the Apple iTunes Store despite taking the contents of users’ address books without their permission suggests that there could be some truth to these claims."
The row over its App Store adds to what has already been a rough month for Apple. Earlier this week the company responded to claims of mistreatment at the Foxconn manufacturing plant by initiating an independent review of the factories responsible for assembling its products.
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