Apple Bans 'Big Brother Camera Security' App Over iPhone Passcode Study

06/15/2011 12:54 pm ET | Updated Aug 15, 2011

Apple has yanked another controversial app from the App Store. This time, the app in question is Big Brother Camera Security, which lets a user remotely photograph someone who is improperly trying to access his missing iPhone.

Developer Daniel Amitay apparently angered Apple by posting a study on his blog that revealed the most common iPhone passcodes.

After Apple initially approved the Big Brother app, Amitay wrote new code for the app that recorded keystrokes corresponding to the numeric passcodes that Big Brother users had set to access the app. "Because Big Brother's passcode setup screen and lock screen are nearly identical to those of the actual iPhone passcode lock, I figured that the collected information would closely correlate with actual iPhone passcodes," Amitay wrote on his blog on Monday. He also claimed that the data was collected anonymously.

Perhaps the correlation was too close. By Tuesday evening, Apple had pulled the app from the app store. On Wednesday morning, Amitay wrote that an Apple representative informed him that Apple believed he was "surreptitiously harvesting user passwords."

Amitay says he has resubmitted his app--sans controversial code--and has made the following appeal to Apple:

- Data in question was specific to my app, and not the iPhone.

- Data in question was anonymous and had no identifying markers.

- Data in question was for the purpose of improving effectiveness of future updates.

Furthermore, he wrote in his blog, "If users are choosing 1234 as their passcodes in mass, then my app by extension becomes less effective. This anonymous data helps me improve future versions."

Amitay has also noted that he believes his data collection was legitimate, based on section b of the iTunes EULA, which reads,

b. Consent to Use of Data: You agree that Application Provider may collect and use technical data and related information, including but not limited to technical information about Your device, system and application software, and peripherals, that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support and other services to You (if any) related to the Licensed Application. Application Provider may use this information, as long as it is in a form that does not personally identify You, to improve its products or to provide services or technologies to You.

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