Flashlight Apps Spy on Users – Investigation Pending!
Summary of eRumor:
Reports allege that popular flashlight apps function as malware and spy on users to collect personal information that is sold to third parties without advance notice.
A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint against the developer of a popular flashlight app has raised security concerns, but the full extent of vulnerabilities with other flashlight apps hasn’t been verified by the TruthorFiciton.com team.
A report released by the cyber security and software firm Snoopwall in October 2014 brought alleged security and privacy issues with flashlight apps to the forefront. The report cited widespread privacy and security issues with the top 10 free flashlight apps on the market, but those claims remain unconfirmed.
In its report, Snoopwall encouraged users to download its own flashlight app, the SnoopWall Privacy Flashlight. That prompted the TruthOrFiction.com team to contact the company for information about specific threats posed by the other free flashlight apps, as well as information on how the report ensured market competition was fairly evaluated. Future updates will be posted here.
But at least one of Snoopwall’s claims is true. The FTC filed a complaint against the developer of a Google Android app called the Brightest Flashlight in 2013. The app’s developer, GoldenShores Technologies, was accused of failing to disclose that users’ personal information was collected and distributed to third parties like advertising networks. The company settled the complaint in December 2013 and agreed to disclose how, when and why geo-location information was collected, and how consumer information would be used going forward.
“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,” FTC Director Jessica Rich said. “But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.”
Regulatory agencies haven’t, however, made any issues with other mobile flashlight developers public.