Major technology brands behind more than 30 of the top Apple iPhone applications, including Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, have received letters from U.S. lawmakers requesting information on how the apps collect consumer data.
The letters were sent out on Thursday to companies with products in the App Store's "iPhone Essential" area, as a part of an ongoing inquiry by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and they were given until April 12 to respond to the request.
The letter listed the recent revelation that social networking tool Path was accessing and uploading address book data from users' devices without permission as a key motivation for the inquiry.
"Last month, a developer of applications ('apps') for Apple's mobile devices discovered that the social networking app Path was accessing and collecting the contents of his iPhone address book without having asked for his consent," read the committee's letter to Facebook. "Concerns were subsequently raised about the manner in which apps can access photographs on Apple's mobile devices. 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."
Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare have offered no public comment as yet on the letters.
Though the letter was sent to firms using Apple's platform, the news comes in the midst of wider concern over mobile permissions, with Google's Android apps also facing scrutiny.
Since the discovery lawsuits have been mounted by consumers against both the app's developers and Google and Apple.
Earlier in March a lawsuit was mounted at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas accusing 18 companies, including Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Yelp, of distributing privacy-invading mobile apps.