Meitu rejected claims of selling user data collected from people using its photo editing app. The Xiamen-based firm faced accusations after numerous users reported that its app is sending IMEI numbers and other information to various Chinese servers. A Meitu spokesperson has now stated that the company isn’t tracking any data that Google and Apple aren’t, but as their tracking services are blocked in China where Meitu is located, the firm was forced to come up with a different solution for measuring the performance of its app. This led to an implementation of an in-house tracking system complemented by a third-party data collection tool. Both solutions were designed to coexist and ensure the company can reliably track the performance of its app, just like many other developers are doing using tools provided by Google and Apple.
Seeing how Meitu’s tracking solution isn’t native to Android, it has to require various permissions to work, a company’s spokesperson said. The Chinese app developer also commented on the fact that the Meitu app is tracking and forwarding IMEI numbers and MAC addresses, stating that these two identifiers are used to create a unique user tracking ID required by the company’s analytics tools. Another reason for tracking users is monitoring ad performance, a Meitu spokesperson said. Furthermore, all collected user data Meitu sends to its Chinese servers is allegedly sent in a secure manner, as the Chinese firm claims it’s utilizing multilayer encryption in addition to secure servers boasting contemporary firewalls and other methods of protection designed to resist external breaches.
Meitu also reflected on the fact that the Android version of its app requires a permission to run at startup by stating that it’s using a third-party notification platform Getui to serve push notifications in China where Google Play Services aren’t available. While it would technically be possible to release an international version of Meitu with Google Play Services and no third-party tracking code, the company said it still wouldn’t be able to track the performance of that hypothetical app due to the fact that China is blocking access to all of Google’s services. It remains to be seen whether the negative publicity Meitu received in the last 24 hours will negatively affect the popularity of its photo editing app. In the meantime, it isn’t unreasonable to presume that the Xiamen-based company implemented a similar tracking solution into its other Android apps like BeautyCam, SmoothPlus, and PosterLabs.