Apple bans hundreds of iPhone apps that secretly gathered personal info

Apple has removed hundreds of apps from the iTunes App Store that secretly collected personal information from anyone who downloaded them.

Most of the 256 affected apps were made in China, but they were available worldwide on the app store and were downloaded 1 million times, according to app analytics service SourceDNA, which first discovered the problem.

The apps’ creators used a software development kit from a Chinese advertising company called Youmi, which allowed the developers to put ads in their apps. That’s kosher.

But Youmi’s software gathered information about the people who downloaded the apps, including their email addresses and iPhone serial numbers — sending all that data to Youmi’s servers. That skirted Apple’s strict privacy guidelines for app developers.

And the way Youmi designed the software hid that fact from the developers and Apple’s iTunes App Store gatekeepers.

SourceDNA did not say which apps were affected. The company told Apple about the problem on Sunday, and Apple removed the apps on Monday.

“This is a violation of our security and privacy guidelines,” Apple said in a statement. “The apps using Youmi’s SDK will be removed from the App Store and any new apps submitted to the App Store using this SDK will be rejected.

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