Storm8 says phone-number lawsuit lacks merit

Lex Friedman
16 November, 2009
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On Monday, we covered a pending class-action lawsuit filed against Storm8, developer of numerous popular iPhone games. The suit alleges that Storm8′s games used “backdoor” methods to snag players’ iPhone numbers.

In an official statement on the company’s forum, Storm8 attempts to clarify just why the heck it was gathering phone numbers, and just what the heck it was doing with them. The short version: accidentally, and nothing.

The long version goes like this: Early in the development process of Storm8′s initial games, the company wanted a way to identify specific iPhones connecting to its massively-multiplayer games, so it tried using the device’s phone number. Eventually, Storm8 “determined it was more suitable to use the device’s Unique Device ID instead.” But—and here’s the big head-scratcher—somehow, the old number-sniffing code was left in place anyway.

Elsewhere in the forum thread, Storm8 claims that said code was removed from its apps in August 2009, that the existing database of phone numbers was destroyed, and that the phone numbers sent by users who haven’t yet upgraded to latest versions of the games aren’t stored.

On the lawsuit itself, Storm8 makes this key claim: “Storm8 will ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety due to the lawsuit’s complete lack of merit. 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.”

We’ll let the courts decide, of course, but if Storm8′s claims are to be believed, perhaps the only thing the company is guilty of is especially lousy code review.

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