Technonlogy

Blu phones back on sale at Amazon after suspension over privacy

Blu’s budget phones have been top sellers on Amazon. They’re available again after a suspension over privacy concerns.


Josh Miller/CNET

Blu phones are again available on Amazon.com after privacy and security concerns prompted the e-tailer to suspend sales of Blu devices earlier this week.

Blu Products tweeted Friday that its gadgets were again on sale, and it included a link to a search results page on Amazon brought up by the keywords “blu phones.” Amazon confirmed Saturday that it had begun selling the devices again after speaking with Blu.

“If we receive information that could potentially impact our customers’ experience, we may temporarily make a product unavailable for purchase,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “Based on communication with the manufacturer, Blu Products, we have resumed selling Blu devices on Amazon.com.”

Blu may not be a household name like Apple or Samsung, but the company found success selling inexpensive Android phones. One of its models, for example, went for $60 and was a top seller on Amazon.

In November, however, The New York Times reported that some Blu phones carried third-party software that secretly tracked people’s whereabouts, along with whom they called and what they wrote in text messages, and sent that data to China.

Blu responded by saying the software had been updated to eliminate the privacy issues. But in late July, the security firm that had originally uncovered the privacy issue said the tracking features were still in place on some Blu phones. A few days later, Amazon suspended sales of Blu devices until a “potential security issue” could be resolved.

The company behind the third-party software, Shanghai Adups Technology, has said that the privacy issues were resolved last year and no longer exist. Blu disputes the notion that the Adups software is spyware and has said it “has several policies in place which take customer privacy and security seriously” and that there have been no privacy breaches with its devices.

Blu couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday, but the company told Engadget in a statement that any data its devices collect doesn’t affect “any user’s privacy or security” and is “standard for OTA functionality.” OTA stands for over-the-air programming, which, among other things, is used to send software updates to phones.

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