That Flashlight on Your Phone Was Watching You

FTC slams Android app maker over location-tracking

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A federal agency on Thursday rebuked the maker of an Android flashlight app that was downloaded by up to 100 million people for secretly tracking user locations and selling the data.

In its first-ever enforcement action on location-tracking technology, the Federal Trade Commission found that Brightest Flashlight Free not only duped users by saying their location data would not be shared with third parties, but it offered users a fake option to refuse tracking, then tracked user location anyway, the Washington Post reports. The FTC’s settlement with app-maker Goldenshores Technologies requires the company to rewrite its privacy policy, fully disclosing that it shares location data with third parties, and to delete personal information collected about users so far.

In the first half of 2013, mobile advertising grew by 145 percent and ads that incorporate location data will constitute a majority of all ads by 2015, according to the industry group Interactive Advertising Bureau. The Idaho-based company Goldenshores Technologies did not respond to a request for comment from the Post.

[The Washington Post]