How’s this for timing? Two Apple patent applications, made public just this morning, go out of their way to point out the importance of getting user consent before collecting and using personal data.

The patent applications, originally submitted in August 2010, deal with ways of segmenting the population to target content, such advertising. They’re unrelated to the recent dustup over the discovery that many third-party iPhone apps have been storing personal address books from their users on their servers without users knowing what was going on.

A section included in both patent filings reads …

For example, personal information from users should be collected for legitimate and reasonable uses of the entity and not shared or sold outside of those legitimate uses. Further, such collection should occur only after receiving the informed consent of the users.

Clearly, based on that, the company has long understood the importance of that consent, which raises the question of how and why app makers were able to get away with the undisclosed address-book storage.

Amid questions from Congress and suggestions that it wasn’t doing enough to stop the practice, Apple spoke out on the address-book issue yesterday, and promised that consent would be required.

Company spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD: “Apps that collect or transmit a user’s contact data without their prior permission are in violation of our guidelines.” He added that “any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

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  • Guest

    I’d like to see iOS 6 integrate a firewall. Any time an application wants to access the Internet or another application’s data, I will be asked to approve or deny the request.

    According to Wikipedia, firewall technology emerged in the late 1980s when the Internet was a
    fairly new technology in terms of its global use and connectivity. It’s now the 33rd year of the 1980s. The Internet is pervasive. We need to control our devices’ ability to use it.

    • asok14215

      After getting a gazillion annoying popups, most users will either disable it or blindly press “Allow”.

      • Guest

        That’s fine. I’m smarter than most users are.

        • asok14215

          Probably true. But then again, Apple’s target market is not you.

          • Guest

            The average Apple customer is wealthy and well-educated. Again, I’m better than average, so Apple needs me to help keep their numbers up.

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