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Chinese selfie app raises red flags with security researchers over privacy concerns

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Written by Kamil Arli
A Chinese beautifying selfie app, that is taking the world by storm with it’s ability to turn mere mortals into anime characters, has raised red flags with security researchers for its apparent excessive collection of data.

The selfie app lets you apply a range of anime-style filters to your pictures and post them on social media. We even gave it a go ourselves.

 But the added exposure that comes with success has led security experts to examine the underlying code running the app. They say that it’s sending personal information – such as your phone’s unique IMEI number – back to China.”The app will transmit your phone’s IMEI (a unique per-phone identifier that can’t be altered under normal circumstances) to servers in China,” wrote security developer Matthew Garrett on his blog .

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ITS ABLE TO OBTAIN THIS VALUE BECAUSE IT ASKS FOR A PERMISSION 

“It’s able to obtain this value because it asks for a permission called READ_PHONE_STATE, which (if granted) means that the app can obtain various bits of information about your phone including those unique IDs and whether you’re currently on a call.”

Garrett, and other tech experts, point out this isn’t a unique case. Many apps ask for a huge amount of access to your data so they can profit from flogging you adverts.

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“As Meitu is headquartered in China, many of the services provided by app stores for tracking are blocked,” the company said in a statement sent to Mirror Online.

“To get around this, Meitu employs a combination of third-party and in-house data tracking systems to make sure the user data tracked is consistent.”

BOSSES SAYTHE REASON FOR THE DATA COLLECTION IS BECAUSE OF THE WAY

In Meitu’s case, bosses say the reason for the data collection is because of the way the internet is locked down in China.

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he Chinese photo-editing app has been popular in Asia for years, but was only released in the UK in January, and has become an overnight hit.

Meitu uses facial recognition technology to map your face using 171 positioning points. It then uses augmented reality technology to overlay make-up and effects.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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