Sneaky, super-popular flashlight app has been leaking your location to advertisers without your knowledge

Sneaky, super-popular flashlight app has been leaking your location to advertisers without your knowledge
The developer behind the popular Brightest Flashlight Free app has been caught red handed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), leaking “users' precise location and unique device identifier to third parties, including advertising networks”. 

Worse yet, the company behind the app, Goldenshores Technologies, has been actively deceiving its users, by introducing an option to opt out, despite the fact that your information would be gathered as soon as you open the app, essentially rendering the option useless. The company has since agreed to settle with the FTC, and should no longer engage in such activity. 

A quick check with the Play Store shows that the app has been downloaded anywhere between 50 and 100 million times.

This is certainly not an isolated incident, and deceitful apps are likely to only increase in numbers, as shady developers are looking to take a bite from the increasingly lucrative mobile apps market. This, more than anything, should convince you to check the type of permissions an app is requesting twice, before you go ahead and hit the green button. In other words, if a flashlight app requires network access, that should be an instant red flag, though there are exceptions that try to monetize their work in a fair and open way.

If you're having doubts already, you should probably go ahead and install an app like Clueful, which will scan your Android for apps that are a tad too nosy, and help you fix the problem.

source: FTC via TheVerge

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16 Comments

15. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Never heard of it...been using Tesla LED for years.

14. andynaija

Posts: 1268; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

That's why I use DroidLight only one permission which is hardware. Besides I didn't like that app to begin when I installed it I uninstalled right away.

10. Ninetysix

Posts: 2966; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Not a big deal..us android users are used to Google collecting our data.

11. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

No doubt, show us one, just one that doesn't. You are a fool if you think your chosen echo system doesn't, but then I expect no less from you and Myx.

12. Ninetysix

Posts: 2966; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

I use an S4 broski. Did I say anything that wasn't a fact?

16. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Yes, and it's ok for us if google has our data, but this was not google, but an independent developer. Anyway, I agree with those who say that it's a user fault. If you download a flashlight app and it asks you for the permission to use gps, you should at least ask yourself why.

6. NOTE2OG

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2013

So you have no apps on your phone.

5. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

people do this anyways whenever they search with google, not surprised by this at all. Though i think the 'sneak' way of doing it was rather bad on them, shut em down.

4. alpinejason

Posts: 262; Member since: Sep 06, 2011

That's why I do not download anything from Google play.they want permissions to access phone state contacts etc etc why just another way to snoop and Invade privacy. What else is new

9. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

When you've got no Android device, what's the use of Google Play? Makes sense ;) [Please no BS about BB, Sailfish, etc compatibility]

3. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I always downloaded Tiny Flashlight for my Android devices... until I found Small Flashlight for Xperias that can be access from the Recent Apps anywhere and it overlays... Anyway I never liked this Brightest Flashlight and never knew why... gut feeling... Tiny Flashlight is much better after comparing them and it probably is a bit more transparent with permissions

8. GeekMovement unregistered

I use Tiny Flashlight too so hopefully they won't make the same mistake as this Brightest Flashlight app. I think they should take down their app from the play store or strip it of all possible permissions.

1. RandomUsername

Posts: 808; Member since: Oct 29, 2013

Who in their right mind would download a flashlight app that has has location permissions...

2. sss_ddk

Posts: 76; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

Those that don't know better. In this case 50 to 100 million!

7. sam_tek

Posts: 105; Member since: Feb 18, 2011

actually those that don't really care is who I'd think download.

13. mikeguy1981

Posts: 88; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

Holy smokes i just found this app on my phone! Odd part is i dont remember downloading it. Its now deleted.

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