Maker of geodata-leaking Brightest Flashlight app moves unscathed through the FTC
Remember "Brightest Flashlight"? It's the free flashlight app that wasn't really the brightest, but nevertheless, it ended up on 50 million Android users' smartphones and covertly leaked their real-time locations to its maker, which went on to sell the data to advertisers. Bad stuff! Of course, the Federal Trade Commission intervened, but the app's maker, on-man company GoldenShores Technologies, is getting away with rather lax treatment considering the sheer scale of its mischief.
Basically, GolenShores owner Erik Geidl is asked not to collect geolocation data without explanation, made to keep records for the FTC, and obliged to inform the agency about any new businesses he might start in the next 10 years. He will also have to erase all collected data from the aforementioned app. And, after saying "sorry", he will be free to play with the other children again.
Most questionably, the FTC won't be fining Geidl on the ground that his app is free. But the agency hasn't acknowledged that he may have profited from the user data he obtained illegally, nor taken action against the advertisers who may have bought it. Of course, it could turn out that Geidl didn't manage to sell any of the data, but this doesn't seem especially plausible. More likely than anything, the man hired a very competent lawyer.
1. express77 (unregistered)
collecting user data should not be allowed, appops should return and collecting user data through cookies and ad tracking should be banned.
3. sprockkets (Posts: 1160; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)
appops doesn't work. If you set it to block stuff it doesn't give null data so the apps screw up and freeze.
If you don't want tracking via cookies on google's ad network simply turn it off on google settings. You'll still have ads but not personalized ones.
2. AliNSiddiqui (Posts: 373; Member since: 19 Sep 2012)
This is user fault if user is allowing permissions for a flashlight app to do such a thing.
4. Augustine (Posts: 706; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)
The data was obtained almost dishonestly, not illegally. Every freaking one who installed this app, was told that this flashlight app got the precise location and the phone ID before allowing its installation. I have no sympathy for the 50 million people who blindly consented to installing this app with such suspicious permissions.
Then again, Phone Arena itself promoted the FCC and the TSA apps though they request permission to get the precise location, full network access, access to system files, running apps and accounts. These apps are even more dishonest and sinister than Geidl's, for the government behind them is known for targeting political opposition and maintaining a secret assassination list.