THE UNITED STATES Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has censured a popular Android app for leaking customer data.
The Brightest Flashlight app that has been downloaded tens of millions of times by users is freely available from the Google Play store and has an average customer rating of 4.8.
Unfortunately, however, it also gathered customer data including accurate location and device ID information and passed it to advertising networks.
This was all, strictly speaking, transparent, but the FTC found that the terms were buried deep within the app's end user licence agreement (EULA) and that before users had even had the "meaningless" opportunity to accept or decline, the data was already being harvested and sent.
"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 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," she added, possibly with a wink.
The settlement with the FTC said that Goldenshores, which makes the Brightest Flashlight app, must delete all data collected so far. It must also ensure that in future the user is able to opt in or out of an informed choice about whether this information should be shared.
The FTC made it clear that it is empowered to fine for infringements up to $16,000, however it has not said it imposed a fine. The settlement is available for comment until 6 January 2014, after which it will become binding.
The INQUIRER has a copy of this app, but only uses it to guide the way to the loo at 3am, hence we only receive advertisements for toilet paper and lightbulbs, along with encouragement to get out more. µ