The incredibly popular Meitu app has already been downloaded over a billion times since its creation in 2008, allowing users to ‘anime’ their face and share the photos across social media.
Those who regularly download apps to their phones or tablets will be familiar with the pop-up icon greeting you, asking for permission to access your camera or your maps to access your location for example. Most apps try to limit the data access required on your device, however there are concerns that Meitu request a disproportionate number of permissions, collecting a large amount of personal information about its users; all of whom download the app for free.
For an app that simply alters your photos, users may be surprised to discover that in addition to accessing your camera, the app also requests permission to:
- access the running apps on your device;
- your location;
- your phone status;
- the ability to modify or delete the contents of your USB storage;
- view your Wi-Fi connection;
- obtain data from your internet;
- modify your display and sound settings;
- control your phone vibration;
- re-order your apps and, believe it or not, even more.
The app is based in China and it is believed the enhanced data access is a result of stricter rules having been imposed on app developers in 2016 with the aim of enhancing data security. However, experts have confirmed that Meitu has a “strong partnership with Google Play” and may be using the information obtained to sell to third party advertisers.
If you are concerned about the data that certain apps can access, it is important to pay attention to the pop-ups when you download them or, otherwise, check and alter the permissions in your settings. The key point is to be wary of “free” apps. Developers will be making their money somehow and if that’s not through in-app purchases then it may be through utilising your data…
If you believe that your personal data has been obtained without your permission, whether that’s on your phone, tablet, computer or through any other means, it is important to take action immediately to limit any damage or issues that may follow. Griffin Law can assist you with your data protection and privacy concerns. Contact us at [email protected] or on 01732 525923
Article by Laura Ware, Solicitor, Griffin Law