Path’s Trust Misstep May Hurt Upcoming Health Data Features
Today’s news uncovered by Arun Thampi that Path has been uploading users entire address book to their servers does not bode well for them. You can read coverage around this issue on ReadWriteWeb, TechCrunch, and Venture Beat. But none of that coverage discussed the future implications as Path has already announced future support for health tracking devices.
I’ve become a big fan of Path over the last few months. It provides a beautiful mobile Lifestreaming app and offers some nice syndication features to boot. But I became even more excited as I heard about the possible future integration with the Jawbone Up. Having a single app to use for Lifestreaming as well as tracking health activity is a very interesting development. Then just a few weeks ago I learned of the newly announced Nike Fuelband which is a new health tracking device that Path announced it will support. So it’s now clear that Path is definitely going to integrate health tracking devices and data into their app.
It’s one thing to compromise users trust when it comes to status updates and other social data, but health data takes that to a new level. It’s a shame that this unnecessary data exposure will no doubt make users take notice and perhaps dissuade them from using the app as they move into their next phase of integrating health data. I hope the Path team can reconcile this issue and provide a means for ensuring it doesn’t happen again in the future. It’s such an elegant app with a bright future that will delve into an area (Lifestreaming + Lifelogging) that nobody else has entered yet. Hopefully they’ve learned from this and will provide a clear on-boarding method for the addition of their health devices support later this year.
UPDATE: Path’s CEO Dave Morin wrote a blog post where he admits the company made a mistake and apologizes. Path also deleted all address book data from their servers and have released a new version of the app that allows users to opt-in to address book sharing if they wish.