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App developer settles with FTC over device data collection, sharing

updated 10:43 am EST, Fri December 6, 2013

Brightest Flashlight app shared location data with advertisers

An app developer has settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges that it had shared user data without permission. GoldenShores Technologies, creators of the free Brightest Flashlight app, "deceived consumers" by collecting and sharing geolocation data and unique device identifiers to advertising networks and third parties.

The complaint from the FTC also states that the app did not provide information about the app's data sharing in its privacy policy, reports the BBC, and though it provides the option for users to opt out of the practice, the FTC claimed this to be "meaningless" as the data was shared regardless of the user's decision.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC bureau of consumer protection, said that consumers "can decide for themselves whether the benefit of a service is worth the information they must share to use it," when they are given a "real, informed choice." The Brightest Flashlight app "left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used."

Under the settlement, GoldenShores must delete any collected personal information gathered through the app, provide a "just-in-time disclosure" to users about the data collection, and to obtain the user's consent before sending any data away. The app in question has been installed over 50 million times, according to Google Play.

The transmission of user data without permission is similar to that of LG and its smart television, reported late last month. One owner discovered data was being collected and sent to LG's servers, including the channel and the names of files on connected drives, even if the user changes a setting to prevent it from doing so. LG responded by claiming it will release a firmware update for the television in the future, to fix the non-functional setting.

by MacNN Staff



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