Lotto NZ says app isn't watching users after glitch found

Author
Damien Venuto, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Jun 2018, 2:40PM
Push notifications suggesting the phone's camera have been activated have alarmed an app developer. (Photo/Lotto NZ)
Push notifications suggesting the phone's camera have been activated have alarmed an app developer. (Photo/Lotto NZ)

Lotto NZ says app isn't watching users after glitch found

Author
Damien Venuto, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Jun 2018, 2:40PM

Lotto NZ has stressed that its app is not activating mobile cameras to monitor users.

This comes after an email to the Herald from a local app developer, expressing concern about the camera on his phone being activated by the Lotto NZ app at seemingly random intervals.

Matthew Moulin, who works as a developer at Flipmind, told the Herald he first noticed the issue when his phone lit up with a notification while he was watching television.

"I opened it to see that the Lotto NZ app was trying to use my camera in the background. In fact, it has been doing this consistently every few days," he said.

Concerned, Moulin put his app development skills to work and downloaded the back-end file, which features a rundown of all the permissions the app has historically activated.

He was alarmed to discover his camera had been activated numerous times in May, despite the fact it wasn't until June 2 when he first gave the app permission to use the feature to scan a barcode on a store-bought ticket.

Moulin said this may well just be a glitch in the design of the app, but expressed concern about what the camera captured while it was activated and where this recording ended up.

Simply put, Moulin was eager to know whether the Lotto NZ app was monitoring users through their phones.

Asked for comment, a Lotto NZ spokesperson told the Herald this wasn't the case, that it was just a technical issue that affected users on modern Samsung devices.

"We are investigating the issue and know that this message is triggered when the player receives a push notification from the Lotto NZ App when they are not actively using it," a Lotto NZ spokesperson told the Herald.

"The push notification 'awakens' the App, which prompts the App Permission Monitor to remind the user that the Lotto NZ App has been granted access to the camera. However, it does not mean that the camera is currently being accessed."

The spokesperson added that the app only had the ability to access the camera when they chose to scan and check a paper ticket through the app.

"Our team is currently looking at ways to prevent this message from occurring in future," the spokesperson said.