App Developer Sued for Stealing Customers' iPhone Numbers
A lawsuit has been filed, on behalf of Washington resident Michael Turner, that alleges Storm8 built its games with a "feature" that automatically sends the phone number of each host iPhone to the developer. Turner is suing on the grounds that this practice is in violation of both the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California state law, and is pushing to turn it into a class-action suit, on behalf of all Storm8 customers.
Storm8 has admitted to collecting the phone numbers, but denies any real responsibility, attributing the "phone home" function to a simple bug in the code. The company maintains that the glitch has been fixed. Turner countered that a "glitch" could not lead to the collection of phone numbers and that specialized code would have to be purposely placed within the games to have that effect. Not being programmers,we can't say for certain whether or not the collecting of phone numbers was intentional, but it doesn't sound like the sort of feature that could be accidentally implemented.
The company has yet to respond to the charges filed against it, and has so far not returned our request for comment. We also asked the company for an explanation as to how a bug could lead to the collection of customer's personal information, and whether or not that data was saved once sent back to the developer. We'll keep you posted.
This incident also raises more questions about the App Store approval process. If a developer could get through Apple's gatekeepers several games that all collect customers' potentially sensitive data, how much stock can we put in Apple's ability to identify and block legitimately malicious programs? [From: MediaPost, MacNN, and Macworld]