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Cybersecurity

Selfie app maker Meitu says it is careful to protect user privacy, and does not sell user data

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 11:56pm

Meitu, the Xiamen-based company that makes photo touch-up apps, has refuted claims that its mobile apps collect more user data than is necessary and maintained that the company does not sell user data to third parties.

Last week, media reports surfaced reporting that Hong Kong-listed Meitu’s apps require extensive permissions from its users, including full network access, permission to read data, the smartphone’s identifying IMEI and Mac address information, as well as the ability to change device settings.

Several security researchers speculated that the company was profiting by selling the user data collected to external parties. But the company refuted those claims, insisting that maintaining user privacy was important for Meitu.

In a statement, Meitu said that the iOS versions of its apps conform to Apple’s App Store policies and protects user privacy.

However, as Android app store Google Play, together with its data tracking services are banned in China, Meitu said that it collects user data from its Android apps with its in-house data tracking system via permissions, so that it can accurately track the apps’ performance.

Meitu also stated that the Android version of the apps require permissions such as GPS and the user’s location in order to better target advertising, and that the IMEI and Mac Address information were collected to recognise the type of device it is installed on.

But much of the information collected by the app could also be necessary as mandated by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). From last August, CAC’s regulations for mobile apps included rules that required app providers to confirm the identities of their users, track user log information and keep the information for at least 60 days, as well as create a robust content censorship system to filter out illegal content.

Meitu also said that the data it collects is sent securely to its servers using multilayer encryption, together with IDS and IPS protection as well as an advanced firewall to protect against cyberattacks.

The company, which went public on December 15, 2016 as the “second-largest listed technology firm” after Tencent, faced a rocky start as its stock price fluctuated, trading below its listing price of HK$8.50 for over a month. On Monday, Meitu’s stock closed at HK$9.25, 4.88 per cent higher than last Friday.