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Gaming App Developer Sued for Harvesting iPhone Users' Cell Numbers

Storm8, the developer of popular gaming apps like iMobsters and Vampires Live is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

A case has been filed against the company by Washington resident, Michael Turner for allegedly harvesting cellphone numbers of iPhone users downloading their iPhone apps.iphone

This is not the first time that Storm8 is being suspected of illegally harvesting cellphone numbers. Earlier this year, website had written about the company's possible malpractices in one of their columns. However, it is only now that a case is being filed. The complainant has sought for a class action status to his suit so that other affected iPhone users may join in. Storm8 claims that their applications have been downloaded over 20 million times so far.

It is interesting how the iPhone apps managed to sneak past Apple's App approval procedures. In his complaint, Turner claims that:

"Storm8 makes use of the ‘backdoor’ method to access, collect, and transmit the wireless phone numbers of iPhones on which its games are installed".

On its part, Storm8 had earlier stated that numbers were indeed being harvested, but that was more so because of a bug that has since then been fixed.

Safeguarding customer privacy has always been a matter of concern. Last September we had written about a similar offence by a Swiss traffic app that had compromised a lot many cellphone numbers to telemarketers. Back then, we had reported that the loophole exploited to dig out customer details had existed on the iPhone SDK since firmware 2.1.

As the provider of the interface between users and iPhone app developers, where does Apple stand in this entire episode? Since in both the cases, Apple had given an explicit approval before the iPhone apps reached the iPhone users, does it make them equally culpable? Please tell us your opinion in the comments.


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