An Android developer has agreed to settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a free flashlight app that has been "deceiving" users. Brightest Flashlight Free, available in the Google Play store, has been downloaded over 50 million times, but a complaint from the FTC reveals that the seemingly innocent app transmits “precise location” data to third-party advertisers alongside a unique device identifier. The FTC says an option to prevent the location-sharing “deceived consumers,” as the data was automatically shared before users could disable it.
“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,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.” The FTC’s settlement forces GoldenShores Technologies, the app developer, to provide more control over the location sharing and not misrepresent how the data is being used and shared. GoldenShores Technologies must also delete all the data it previously collected as part of the FTC settlement.