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Android App Developer Shamed for Lying to Users

Android App Developer Shamed for Lying to Users

Here at XDA-Developers, we always encourage and maintain an ethical standard of behavior with regards to all areas of mobile development, be it ROMs, mods, or apps. Because of this, it’s extremely disappointing to see developers out there who do not believe that honesty and transparency with their customers is necessary. Thankfully, one such app developer was reprimanded by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for doing precisely that.

Ever since 2011, GoldenShores Technologies, the developers behind the app Brightest Flashlight, lied to all 100 million users of their app regarding its data collection policies and activities. The FTC recently uncovered that GoldenShores has been secretly collecting and selling information on users’ locations and device ID data to third-party advertising networks.

The worst is yet to come though. On top of that, the FTC revealed that the “option” to refuse the data collection in the first place was deceitful as well. Former users of the app may remember being prompted to choose between allowing and denying local data tracking that would be used strictly for internal purposes. Well, for the sensible folks out there who denied the app the permission to do so were also mislead. As it turns out, pressing the button ‘deny’ didn’t really do anything, and GoldenShores continued to line their pockets by continuing to sell your private data.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, criticized Erik Geidl, the owner of the app with:

“When consumers are given a real, informed choice, they can decide for themselves whether the benefit of a service is worth the information they must share to use it. But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.”

Unmasked and vulnerable, GoldenShores has agreed with the FTC to stop “misrepresenting how consumers’ information is collected and shared and how much control consumers have over the way their information is used.” Also part of the settlement is GoldenShores’s guarantee of providing a disclosure that fully informs consumers “when, how and why their geolocation information is being collected, used and shared,” as well as an explicit permission of data collection that actually works.

[Source: Washington Post]

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