Amazon halts sales of Blu smartphones over privacy concerns [Update]

The Blu Pure XR

US budget smartphone maker Blu has been suspended from selling its devices on Amazon, according to a recent report by CNET. This is due to a "potential security issue" within the devices.

The move came after security firm Kryptowire demonstrated back in November 2016 how software in Blu smartphone discreetly collected SMS and other private data, and sent them to servers in China, all without the permission of the user. In light of the issue, Blu requested the software maker, Shanghai Adups Technology, to disable the functionality.

Kryptowire further found out that Adups, through the Blu R1 HD, continued to transmit data from users' phones, sending them over to a Command & Control (C&C) server. This was reportedly capable of taking screenshots, recording the screen, making calls, and installing more apps.

"Because security and privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance, all BLU phone models have been made unavailable for purchase on until the issue is resolved," Amazon announced in a statement to CNET.

Blu was one of the participants for Amazon's "Prime Exclusive Phones" program, which offered large discounts on phones, in exchange for displaying ads and offers on the lockscreen. The smartphone maker has now been taken off this program, but Blu is reputedly working to bring back its products on Amazon.

The Blu Brand is popular within Latin America and parts of the US, where the company is headquartered. It has released various Android devices, and a number of Windows phones.

Update: Carmen Gonzalez, Marketing Director for Blu has reached out to Neowin to give the company's statement in light of the issue with Amazon. It reads:

Since Nov 2016 when the initial privacy concern was reported by Kryptowire, which BLU quickly remedied, Amazon has been aware of the Adups and other applications on our BLU devices which were deemed at the time by BLU, Amazon, and Kryptowire to pose no further security or privacy risk. Now almost a year later, the devices are still behaving in the same exact way, with standard and basic data collection that pose no security or privacy risk. There has been absolutely no new behavior or change in any of our devices to trigger any concern. We expect Amazon to understand this, and quickly reinstate our devices for sale.

Source: CNET

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