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Android app maker settles claims it exposed sensitive files

Photos, videos, and more shared by default

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The maker of a peer-to-peer application for Android handsets has agreed to settle federal charges that it was likely to cause users to unwittingly expose sensitive files to other people using the app.

Angel Leon, developer of FrostWire for Android, agreed to redesign the app after officials of the Federal Trade Commission alleged it was likely to cause a large number of users to inadvertently share personal files stored on their devices. Leon also agreed to make changes to a PC version of the p2p application FrostWire Desktop.

By default, FrostWire for Android shared many users' photos, videos, documents, and other files already stored on phones and tablets running Google's mobile operating system, according to a complaint filed by the FTC. Nothing in the installation and set-up instructions adequately informed users of the risks, it alleged.

“FrostWire for Android, as configured by the defendants, was likely to cause a significant number of consumers installing and running it on their mobile computing devices to unwittingly share files stored on those devices,” attorneys for the federal consumer watchdog agency wrote.

Over the years, untold numbers of people have mistakenly made proprietary data available over p2p file-sharing networks. Last year, the FTC warned 100 schools, local governments, and private corporations that their inadvertent sharing of sensitive information put others at risk of identity theft. More often than not, the unintended exposure is the result of users who don't take the time to properly configure their file-sharing applications.

Tuesday's settlement prevents Leon from using the default settings of the programs. It also bars him from making misrepresentations about the file-sharing behavior of the programs. The FTC has more here. ®

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