Apple has banned hundreds of iPhone apps that secretly gathered personal information on users.The 256 apps were available worldwide on the App Store and have been downloaded more than a million times, according to the app analytics firm SourceDNA which discovered the problem.
Developers of the apps in question used a software development kit (SDK) from a Chinese ad firm called Youmi, allowing them to put adverts into the apps.
But while that’s permitted, the Youmi software also gathered information about people who had downloaded the apps, which is not.
Email addresses and iPhone serial numbers were scooped up and sent to Youmi’s data servers.
This broke Apple’s strict privacy guidelines for app developers, and led to the purge.
SourceDNA said the software was designed to hide the fact that data was being shared.
It notified Apple on Sunday and the apps – which have not been publicly named – were removed from the App Store on Monday.
In a statement Apple said: “This is a violation of our security and privacy guidelines.
“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.”
Anyone who has downloaded the apps will still be able to use them but they won’t be updated.
It is the third big lapse in Apple’s App Store security in a month.