Monday, December 9, 2013

And App Makers Wonder Why We Don't Trust Them!

“Brightest Flashlight Free.” has been selling users data

The FTC settled a case last week with an Android-based popular flashlight app, “Brightest Flashlight Free.” Turns out that they've been stealing (strong word, but I'm embellishing my emotional reaction here) users data and selling it to their advertisers.

I always wonder (and hate) when I install an app and it wants to have access to all kinds of information on my smartphone.  Information that it really doesn't need.  I get needing access to the phone call mode, and some simpler options, but my location?  (Ha, I run with my GPS turned off, so they only get so much info out of me.  ((like nearby networks)) )

And yet, it's what they do.  And I bet very few folks read the warnings while clicking on all those acceptance buttons!

The app is a very opular Android app by GoldenShores Technologies, LLC, that has had almost 100 million users, called Brightest Flashlight Free.  (Remember, free is an illusion.  Though sometimes, if you ignore the fine print on some apps, it does feel like it's free!)

Turns out that GOLDENSHORES TECHNOLOGIES as been collecting personal data including location and device ID's and sharing that information with their advertisers.  Even if the users choose to opt out of that part of the app's function.

It also was noticed that the app was sending off collected data immediately after being installed on a phone, before a user even got to the option to opt out of the info sharing option.

Shame on you GT!

But they're only getting a slap on the wrist.

-They will now have to fully inform users when, how and why their location data is collected,

-Obtain the their “affirmative express consent” in regards to what data they're sharing,

-And they have to delete all personal information that they snagged from consumers who installed the Brightest Flashlight app.

Brightest, my ass!

So what can you do?

Well, for starters, (even though it might not have helped), install stuff from well reviewed app writers.  Only install verified software.  Not some third-world party app.

And if you feel you've been slighted by any company, but they're not being reprimanded properly, then stop using their content,

Uninstall any other content from them that you have on your phone.

Tell, forward or share this kind of information with anyone you can.

It's not much, but as consumers, we have to take the fight to them, however we can.  And the usual "speak with our wallets" option isn't going to be very effective in the case of free.  So now, we have to fight with information.

I had one flashlight app on my phone that had the appearance of a flashlight power switch, but the oddest thing was that it took so long to boot up that it was somewhat useless (and made me suspicious.  Why would you need 15 seconds to start a light on your phone?).  I have always used and apparently continue to do so, use the Tesla flashlight app.



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Hi - sorry for the confirmation but I need to weed out the noise from the well intended comments. Thanks for leaving a note... - Bruce