iPhone Game Developer Sued for Collecting User’s Cell Numbers

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iPhone game developer Storm8 has been sued for harvesting iPhone cell numbers on iPhones where its game was downloaded. The incident first came to light in August, when Storm8 acknowledged the issue and blamed it on an error that it said was then corrected. Michael Turner of Washington State, however, is now seeking class action status for a suit accusing the company of having violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Storm8 has some 39 free and paid games on the App Store, ranging from the free Zombies Live, to iMobsters for $19.99. Many of the company's games have different levels of free versions and versions priced at multiple tiers.

Mr. Turner's attorney, Michael Aschenbrener of Kamber Edelson told MediaPost that the purpose of the lawsuit was to insure Storm8 had a legal barrier to collecting phone numbers in the future, even though Storm8 has already promised not to do so in the future, saying, "A public admission is not the same as a legal representation or legal injunction."

MediaPost also pointed out that the suit will have a high barrier in that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act stipulates that computers were unlawfully accessed and damaged. Having your phone number sent back to a server isn't likely to constitute as damage, but then that's what courts get to figure out.

Ninjas Live
Storm8 game Ninja Live

Comments

Khaled

good, it’s already bad enough with SMS spammers.

geoduck

IANAL so I’m asking
Would the plaintiff have to show intent?
Is it enough to {presumably} violate the law, or would it have to be shown that they deliberately ordered the programmer to put the code in the game for the purpose of collecting #s.

woode

Intent? How can you “accidentally” harvest phone numbers? You have to use a certain bit of code to do it, then send it to a server. I read elsewhere that using monitoring tools, some users could see where the apps were actually sending phone numbers to the Storm8 servers. Looks like pretty clear intent to me. IANAL either, but I don’t think that damage has to occur, either, to be guilty of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Just accessing a computer without permission is enough, from what I understand. Besides, the stealing of a person’s phone number, it could be argued, is damage.

geoduck

Besides, the stealing of a person?s phone number, it could be argued, is damage.

I agree completely. This was a reprehensible thing to do. I’m just wondering if Storm8 could argue in court that “the programmer set this up without our knowledge and we removed it as soon as we became aware of it”. If that would work then it would make a pretty huge loophole in the law.

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