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US Congress grills iOS developer about privacy policies for ‘Tweetbot’ app [updated]

The U.S. Congress is querying an iOS developer for information about whether it satisfies Apple’s privacy policies for apps and how and why it collects data from users. (The update is after the break.)

The Next Web received an information request sent to developer Tapbots from House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairmen Henry Waxman and Fred Upton. Tapbots is the brain behind the popular “Tweetbot” Twitter client for the iPad and iPhone.

“We are writing to you because we want to better understand the information collection and use policies and practices of apps for Apple’s mobile devices with a social element. We request that you respond to the following questions regarding the Tweetbot app,” explained the representatives in the letter’s introduction…

The information request included an examination about how often Tweetbot downloaded from the App Store, whether the developer had a privacy policy by the end of February 2012, and it inquired about obtaining a full copy of the policy.

The dispatch further probed if Tapbots’ iOS app transmitted address book particulars, and it questioned whether security measures were in place to protect users’ privacy. The correspondence most likely comes in lieu of recent media attention about the “Path” app debacle and further reports on Apple’s contact-sharing issues.

UPDATE:  The U.S. Congress sent its information request to “34 sellers of social apps for Apple Inc.’s mobile devices,” according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

“Following recent reports that apps could collect address book information and photos without notice and consent from users of Apple’s mobile devices, the members are seeking to better understand what, if any, information these particular apps gather, what they do with it, and what notice they provide to app users,” explained the subcommittee.

A few of the apps to receive letters include “Twitter,” “Path,” “,” “Facebook,” “SoundCloud,” “Foodspotting,” and more.

“The apps were selected for the inquiry based on their inclusion in the ‘Social Networking’ subcategory within the ‘iPhone Essentials’ area of Apple’s App Store,” the subcommittee contended.

A full list of letters and developers is available on the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s website. The representatives’ full note to Tapbots is available below.

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