Chinese Android weather app collects 'unusual amount of data'

A popular Chinese Android weather app has been tapping into its users' personal data and subscribing some of them to extra paid services without their consent.

    2019/01/03

NSFW    SHENZHEN, CHINA — Thought Facebook was nosy? Now even checking the weather might put you at the mercy of the Chinese data police.

A popular Chinese Android weather app called "Weather Forecast - World Weather Accurate Radar" has been collecting an "unusual amount of data" and subscribing some users to extra paid services without their consent, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The app is from Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd., which also manufactures Alcatel and Blackberry phones.

The suspicious activity was detected by a UK security firm called Upstream Systems.

Upstream found the app collects the users' email address, geographic location and international mobile equipment identity, a unique number used to identify mobile phones.

The app also secretly subscribed 100,000 of the company's Alcatel users in countries including Brazil, Malaysia and Nigeria to paid virtual-reality services without their consent.

The app is also sending data back to servers in China.

Upstream stated that had they not reported the surreptitious subscriptions, users may have been forced to pay over $1.5 million for the extra services.

The app currently has roughly 10 million downloads and about 45,000 reviews on the Google Play Store app.
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