The latest photo editing app to go viral, Meitu, has sparked serious security and privacy concerns as Android users are allegedly giving away huge amounts of information to the Chinese tech company in order to download the selfie taking app.
The app which turns users into Japanese style anime characters has already been downloaded a billion times with six billion photos being generated every month.
Besides accessing the phone’s camera and storage, Meitu also allegedly has access to phone numbers and location (which are both network-based and GPS).
A glance at the Meitu app terms and conditions shows that Meitu states it can collect the following information from smartphones:
1) Cookies and similar technologies. When Meitu requests an advertiser or other partner to deliver ads or offer services to your equipment, Meitu or the third party may apply cookies and similar technologies;
2) Equipment or software information, such as the configuration information provided by your mobile equipment, web browser or other programs used to access our services, your IP address and the version and IMEI of the mobile equipment used, operating system information and network information;
3) Information relating to the mobile applications (APP) and other software that you have used, and the content from such mobile applications and software that you have used.
4) Information (metadata) involving the contents that you share through our services, such as the date, time, place and others of shooting and sharing the photo or video.
However the developer claims that the wording of the terms and conditions are necessary to get around Chinese restrictions and insists it is not selling any information to third party companies.
Meitu is headquartered in China which has rules in place to block tracking within applications downloaded from the Google Play and Apple App Store.
A Meitu spokesperson told CNET, “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.”
“Furthermore, the data collected is sent securely, using multi layer encryption to servers equipped with advanced firewall, IDS and IPS protection to block external attacks.”
Created by Chinese entrepreneur Cai Wensheng in 2008, the multi billion dollar business Xiamen Meitu Technology Co., Ltd., who own Meitu have already been dominating the Chinese selfie market with apps such as Beauty Plus and AirBrush - Selfie Editor for Flawless Photos for selfie-obsessed smartphone users. Users can remove blemishes and dark circles, make themselves look slimmer and even extend their leg length with a swipe on the app.
Meitu was voted one of the top ten apps of the year by iTunes.