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(Reuters) — Thousands of smartphone applications in Apple and Google’s online stores contain computer code developed by a technology company, Pushwoosh, that presents itself as based in the United States, but is actually Russian, Reuters has found.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States’ main agency for fighting major health threats, said it had been deceived into believing Pushwoosh was based in the U.S. capital. After learning about its Russian roots from Reuters, it removed Pushwoosh software from seven public-facing apps, citing security concerns.
The U.S. Army said it had removed an app containing Pushwoosh code in March because of the same concerns. That app was used by soldiers at one of the country’s main combat training bases.
According to company documents publicly filed in Russia and reviewed by Reuters, Pushwoosh is headquartered in the Siberian town of Novosibirsk, where it is registered as a software company that also carries out data processing. It employs around 40 people and reported revenue of 143,270,000 rubles ($2.4 million) last year. Pushwoosh is registered with the Russian government to pay taxes in Russia.
On social media and in U.S. regulatory filings, however, it presents itself as a U.S. company, based at various times in California, Maryland and Washington, D.C., Reuters found.
Pushwoosh provides code and data processing support for software developers, enabling them to profile the online activity of smartphone app users and send tailor-made push notifications from Pushwoosh servers.
On its website, Pushwoosh says it does not collect sensitive information, and Reuters found no evidence Pushwoosh mishandled user data.