Android developers using SilverPush have been warned by the FTC that the advertising framework can listen to the users in the background with the aim of listening to television shows are being watched. The US Federal Trade Commission has sent out the warnings particularly to twelve developers discovered to be using the software. The agency didn’t share which apps are those but all are currently live on the Google Play Store for everyone to download.
This software is believed to be capable of invading the privacy of users. This SilverPush uses the the phone’s microphone to listen to the user’s background which may include information on the TV shows the users watch. This way, advertisers are given data on the viewing habits of the users. Such issue didn’t come as a surprise since a lot of apps, probably millions, usually ask for permission to access data or other apps. The 12 apps listed by the FTC were discovered to be asking access to the microphone even when there is no need.
According to FTC, the apps “would be capable of producing a detailed log of the television content viewed while a user’s mobile device was turned on for the purpose of targeted advertising software and analytics.”
FTC asked the app developers why they would need access but most of them failed to explain what kind of information they needed to collect. FTC noted through FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Jessica Rich that, “Companies should tell people what information is collected, how it is collected, and who it’s shared with.”
Even if Silverpush’s service is not used in the United States, FTC said the warning would serve as encouragement to developers to notify consumers that some 3rd-party apps or software could monitor TV viewing habits. App developers have been told to ask permission first to use the mic even if there seems to be a special need for the said feature.
If the apps are discovered to be collecting or transmitting TV viewing data in contrast to the developers’ statements that they are not, the FTC said they could be in violation of the Section 5 of the FTC Act.
SOURCE: Federal Trade Commission