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Flashlight App Settles with FTC For Secretly Sharing User Location and Device ID

flashlight appThe maker of the popular Flashlight App for Android has settled with the FTC following accusations that it secretly sold user information without consent. Created by Goldenshoews Technologies, LLC, the app has a popular user base between 50-100 million users. Until recently, all of the apps reviews were stellar – at 4.8 stars from 1 million reviewers.

While most users typically don’t read privacy policy, Goldenshorewent beyond hiding its data practice: the company knowingly collected user data even before giving users a chance to opt out. Further, the app fails to mention that part of the information already collected would be shared and sold to advertisers:

Consumers also were presented with a false choice when they downloaded the app, according to the complaint. Upon first opening the app, they were shown the company’s End User License Agreement, which included information on data collection. At the bottom of the license agreement, consumers could click to “Accept” or “Refuse” the terms of the agreement. Even before a consumer had a chance to accept those terms, though, the application was already collecting and sending information to third parties – including location and the unique device identifier

The following statement from the FTC settlement details the terms that Goldenshore has to abide by:

The settlement with the FTC prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting how consumers’ information is collected and shared and how much control consumers have over the way their information is used. The settlement also requires the defendants to provide a just-in-time disclosure that fully informs consumers when, how, and why their geolocation information is being collected, used and shared, and requires defendants to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before doing so.

The defendants also will be required to delete any personal information collected from consumers through the Brightest Flashlight app.

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