FTC Response to Privacy-Violating Flashlight App May Signal Big Changes
The FTC's settlement with the maker of the Brightest Flashlight Free app may hint at a new direction for the mobile industry.The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is said to have a sent a message to the wireless industry in its handling of a settlement with Goldenshores Technologies, an app development company run by someone named Erik M. Geidl, who sold tens of millions of people a privacy-violating Android app. The "Brightest Flashlight Free" app wasn't just performing the helpful function its name suggests, but it was sending precise location information about users, as well as the unique identifier number of their phones, to third parties, including advertising networks. The app disclosed that it collected user information, though it didn't say that it shared the information with third parties. Further, when people went to download the app, it presented them with a "false choice," the FTC said in a Dec. 5 press release. "At the bottom of the license agreement, consumers could click to 'Accept' or 'Refuse' the terms of the agreement. Even before a consumer had a chance to accept those terms, though, the application was already collecting and sending information to third parties—including location and the unique device identifier," the FTC explained.