"If Apple wants to truly be an advocate for consumer privacy, it could take the lead in building a better system—one that lets its customers more directly control who has their data. Companies don’t go out of their way to give users deeper control over their contact lists because it’s not beneficial to the bottom line, says Jennifer King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “Nobody has really reimagined the address book since we made them electronic in the ’90s,” she says. “It’s just a phone book, and there’s no way to lock down information or privilege certain types.”
Developers have access to dozens of different data points they can ingest whenever a user says yes. So the first step is obvious: Restrict them from getting any information from users’ lists beyond phone numbers and email addresses. The next step is redesigning the controls of the list to allow users to encrypt or decline to share certain contacts. The names in a contact list could be benign, or they could be revealing—a doctor’s patients, a dealmaker’s network, a journalist’s sources. “Any high-net-worth or high-power individual wouldn’t give over their most sensitive contacts to a stranger,” King says. “Why can’t we lock that down?""