The creator of a popular flashlight app for Android phones hid the fact that the app also shared the precise locations of its users to advertisers, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday.
Brightest Flashlight Free, which has been downloaded more than 50 million times, agreed to a settlement after the FTC found that it had shared its users’ geo-location data and the unique identifiers assigned to devices without disclosing the practice to consumers.
“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,’ said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau. “But this flashlight left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.”
The action, the FTC’s first on privacy violations involving geo-location data over mobile devices, comes amid increasing concern over GPS data collection by companies. Several bills have been introduced in the Senate to curb the practice and force companies to clearly explain how it can collect and use information about consumers’ whereabouts.
The FTC said its investigation started with a complaint about the practice. Goldenshores Technologies did no respond to a request for comment.