Flashlight app caught collecting and selling user data

December 5, 2013
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This latest case of an Android app gone bad is a reminder that even popular apps aren't always so innocent. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just disclosed an incident of what is supposedly a popular flashlight app that was discovered to be spying on its users and selling off their personal information to the highest bidder.

Although flashlight apps on Android are a dime a dozen, the FTC claims that the free Brightest Flashlight app by Goldenshores Technologies has been installed on tens of millions of devices. It's probably common knowledge by now that majority of users simply breeze through the installation steps. Those that do might have failed to notice that the app asks permissions for things one might not associate with a simple flashlight utility. Whatever the developers' reasons were, it turns out that those permissions were used for less than benign purposes.

According to the FTC, the app collected the user's personal details which it then sold to advertising companies. Furthermore, even when the app informed users about this, it did so in a way that was either unclear or purposely deceptive. For example, the app actually started collecting and sending the data even before the user has read and approved or declined the terms of agreement, making such measures moot.

The FTC has supposedly reached a settlement with the developers of the app, but the details of that have not been disclosed. There is also no word on what measures will be taken on behalf of those whose privacy was already violated. Curiously, the app is still on Google Play Store and still uses more permissions than necessary.

VIA: The Register


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  • OverThePhone

    A settlement? What kind of garbage is this….why aren’t developers in effing prison. KMT. Darn rubbish are usual. The govt is in bed with all these companies…aka NSA.

    • Techngro

      Overreact much? I don’t think that this is worthy of prison. A hefty financial punishment should suffice, and perhaps a monitoring agreement.

  • http://www.itrush.com/ IT Rush

    what the.. that’s the very reason why I always check for apps permission before hitting the install button, I even install an antivirus that detects this kind of app that collects user data..

  • John Scott

    One of the main reasons I dumped Android. I found several apps that mysteriously ask for more information then I thought the app needed. I am sure a lot of people simply breezed through the install and never bothered to check the permission access they granted.

    • http://bit.ly/plusrichard Richard Soper

      Android 4.4 lets your granularly control what each app has access to. Dont like a certain game seeing your contacts, turn that ish off :)

      Its one of the lesser known features of the 4.3+ systems