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Sharing Your Location… In a Flash

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Imagine this: You’re at home one evening when a sudden storm knocks out your power. You reach for that flashlight you keep in the kitchen drawer just for emergencies. You flip the switch, and the flashlight asks for your location. That would be weird, huh?

Blue Smart PhoneWell, that could be exactly what’s happening — on your phone.

Since February 2011, people have downloaded the Brightest Flashlight app to more than 50 million Android devices — making it one of the most popular free apps on the Android marketplace. According to the FTC, most of these users probably didn’t realize that anytime they launched the app, it collected and broadcasted their locations and device IDs to advertising networks and other third parties. 

Goldenshores Technologies, the developer behind the Brightest Flashlight, has agreed to settle FTC charges that the company didn’t adequately disclose what information it collected and shared — not in the app’s user agreement or anywhere else.

If you want to know more about what apps collect and share about you, check out Understanding Mobile Apps.


Does this mean they will no longer be able to collect this information or will they just be allowed to notify us that they are collecting the info?

Hi, Mary,

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

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

The FTC will accept comments on this proposed settlement for thirty days.

Let me be the one named in the class action for plenty. ;}~~~~

I think companies need to disclose this information. Can you force them to delete our information? Is it safe to keep the app? Thanks!

I would not keep it. The first story I read on this was a news story with a security tech expert. He recommended not only deletion but a factory reset as spyware can remain after the app is deleted. He recommended if you wanted a flashlight app to look at the file size in bytes. Most flashlights are ranging from 1.5Megabytes on up to 5MB. I had one that had an insane size of 14MB! There is one on Googles app store called Privacy Flashlight that is a mere 138kilobytes with permissions only to control the LED using the camera. There is no need for a simple flashlight to get over 600-700kb even with bells and whistles. Even at 5MB the app I got is close to 50 times smaller than the highest end of average range. The one I had is no longer available on the app store. Gee I wonder why? The app creators running scared I'd say. The info on the flashlight app I now have specifically mentions this FTC case. I installed it and highly recommend you do the same.

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