Recently, Simon Willison presented on OpenID and called the practice that Dopplr (and many many others) uses to import your contacts from Gmail
absolute horrifying. I would concur, but point out that Dopplr is probably the least offender as they also provide safe and effective hcard importing from Twitter or any URL, just as Get Satisfaction does.
Unfortunately this latter approach is both less widely implemented and also unfamiliar to many regular folks who really just want to find their friends or invite them to try out a new service.
The tragedy here is that these same folks are being trained to hand out their email address and passwords (which also unlock payment services like Google Checkout) regularly just to use a feature that has become more or less commonplace across all social network sites. In fact, it’s so common that Plaxo even has a free widget that sites can use to automate this process, as does Gigya. Unfortunately, the code for these projects is not really open source, whereas Dopplr’s is, providing little assurance or oversight into how the import is done.
What’s most frustrating about this is that we have the technology to solve this problem once and for all (a mix of OpenID, microformats, OAuth, maybe some Jabber), and actually make this situation better and more secure for folks. Why this hasn’t happened yet, well, I’m sure it has something to do with politics and resources and who knows what else. Anyway, I’m eager to see a open and free solution to this problem and I think it’s the first thing we need to solve after January 1.