Feeds

FTC torches Android flashlight app for spying on users

Developer agrees to settle charges of harvesting data

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a clampdown on an Android developer accused of covertly harvesting and selling user locational data.

The FTC said that it has reached a settlement with Goldenshores Technologies, a US developer behind the "Brightest Flashlight" mobile application, a free download which the FTC said had been installed on "tens of millions" of Android devices.

According to the FTC, the Brightest Flashlight application not only provided users with a handy light, but also collected data on their location and device ID. The collected information was then sold to third-party advertisers.

When the developers did notify users about the application's activities, the FTC said, information was inaccurately displayed or a user's preferences not to have their data shared were ignored. Additionally, the commission charged that Brightest Flashlight would track and transmit user information even before users had the chance to read the EULA and accept or decline the terms of the agreement.

"When consumers are given a real, informed choice, they can decide for themselves whether the benefit of a service is worth the information they must share to use it," said FTC consumer protection bureau director Jessica Rich.

"But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used."

Under the terms of the deal, the FTC said that Goldenshores will be barred from covertly collecting information about users and transmitting without consent. Further, the company will be required to fully disclose how it handles user information and obtain permission before handling any user data.

The US government is hardly in much of a position to shame the private sector over the covert collection of user data. Earlier this week the Washington Post reported that the NSA may be maintaining an archive which tracks the mobile activity of billions of people around the world as part of an effort to monitor terrorist activities.

That system, which authorities have contended is not illegal, is able to track user movements across multiple access points and identify when a device is likely being used by an associate or an accomplice of a suspected criminal. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.