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Flashlight app for Android phones sharing locations, lying to customers

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A popular flashlight app for Android devices was shedding a little too much light on users’ personal information. The maker of that app has now decided to settle with the Federal Trade Commission after the app supplied location and personal information to marketers even if a user rejected the terms of service.

The Associated Press reports on Thursday that the developer of “Brightest Flashlight Free”, Goldenshores Technologies LLC, has agreed to change the terms of its user agreement as part of the settlement. PCMag reports that the settlement is now open for public comment and the FTC will decide after that whether to make it final or if it will impose a $16,000 civil penalty.

The FTC was tipped off by customers who were thrown off by a flashlight app requesting the geo-location of consumers.

The FTC said that the app would document the precise location of the device as well as identify what type of device was in use and automatically send that information along to third parties, including marketers. The privacy policy even stated that no information would be shared outside of the company.

The company further lied to consumers by giving the appearance of the ability to back out of the data collection. Users were given a prompt whether they wanted to accept or refuse the terms, even though the information would have already been sent at that point.

TIME reports this is the first enforcement action on location-tracking technology. The FTC will continue to look into app developers, websites and companies that track information without customer knowledge.


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