iPhone game dev accused of stealing players' phone numbers (UPDATED)

vampireslivethumb.jpgIphone game developer Storm8 exploited an "electronic backdoor" to learn the phone numbers of players, according to a class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco.

Filed on behalf of Lynnwood, WA resident Michael Turner, the suit claims that the practice is not authorized by Apple and involves the execution of "malicious software code."

"Storm8 has written the software for all its games in such a way that it automatically accesses, collects, and transmits the wireless telephone number of each iPhone user who downloads any Storm8 game," the suit alleges. " ... Storm8, though, has no reason whatsoever to access the wireless phone numbers of the iPhones on which its games are installed."

Storm8 makes popular multiplayer games such as iMobsters and Vampires Live, available in both free and paid versions for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Its titles allow players to spend money in-game to acquire better weapons and other competitive advantages.

(Update) In a statement released Nov 12., Storm8 apologized for the number transmissions and said it had immediately updated its games to prevent them from doing so in future. It said the lawsuit was without merit and that it plans to ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety: "We believe that we have always complied with all of the statutes referred to in the lawsuit and never took an action that harmed or impaired users or your devices in any way. To our knowledge, no user has incurred any damage or loss as a result of the matters discussed in the lawsuit."

The number farming was not disclosed to players until an acknowledgement in August that described it as a "bug." The lawsuit claims that only "very specific and specialized software code" could do so, however, and seeks injunctive relief and damages.

Storm8 says that this code was used in development tests, only inadvertently remained in production builds, and removed as soon as it was alerted to the issue.

Text of the lawsuit (PDF)

Update: Statement from Storm8