Dustin Curtis more directly states something I hit on earlier with regard to the Path address book situation:
I did a quick survey of 15 developers of popular iOS apps, and 13 of them told me they have a contacts database with millons of records. One company’s database has Mark Zuckerberg’s cell phone number, Larry Ellison’s home phone number and Bill Gates’ cell phone number. This data is not meant to be public, and people have an expectation of privacy with respect to their contacts.
This really isn’t a secret, ask around. There are a lot of apps you use on a daily basis doing the same thing. Some have for a long time. None (that I know of) are doing it to be evil, they’re doing it because it’s a connection/spreading mechanism that iOS allows for.
And again, from what I hear, Apple is likely to change this soon as well. But I’m with Curtis, I can’t understand why this unrestricted access was in place to begin with. I really can’t think of a good reason.