Retrievable iPhone Numbers Lead To Privacy Concerns

After some iPhone users have reported receiving phone calls from the publisher of a free app they've downloaded from the App Store, users have begun to wonder: how did the company get my contact information? Since Apple does not provide contact information for users to App Store vendors, the phone calls seem a bit suspicious.

mogoRoad, a real-time traffic monitoring application that is available in Switzerland, is the application in question. The calls invite users of the free version to shell out money for the full version. Mogo claims the phone numbers were provided by Apple. After some digging, however, French site Mac 4 Ever has discovered that it is possible, even easy, for an application to retrieve the phone number of an iPhone on which it is installed, even though the user has not entered any personal details into the application.

Apple's iPhone software development kit doesn't provide a built-in way for applications to get information such as a device's phone number, but that information can still be indirectly retrieved with relatively little trouble. Mac 4 Ever claims this functionality (if you can call it that) has been available since iPhone OS 2.1.

Given that most of us don't appreciate telemarketing calls, many users will view this as a serious privacy concern. Apple's privacy policy says the company takes privacy seriously, as it should.  But is the company doing enough to protect our information? Certainly many users will agree that Apple should punish any vendor who abuses the information about its customers—whether that information was received legitimately or not.