06 December 2013


In the US the Federal Trade Commission has announced that Goldenshores Technologies, LLC - provider of the Android Flashlight App Developer Settles FTC Charges It Deceived Consumers ‘Brightest Flashlight’ App Shared Usthe “Brightest Flashlight Free” app - has settled charges of deceiving customers about collection and use of geolocation information.

The free Brightest Flashlight app was marketed to users of Android mobile devices, on the basis that the device could be used as a flashlight. The FTC indicates that the app has been downloaded tens of millions of times. The Commission alleged that the Goldenshores privacy policy "deceptively failed to disclose" that the app transmitted users’ precise location and unique device identifier to third parties, including advertising networks. The FTC also alleged that Goldenshores deceived consumers by presenting them with an option to not share their information, even though it was shared automatically (rendering the option meaningless).
 “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 Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.” 
In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Goldenshores’ privacy policy told consumers that any information collected by the Brightest Flashlight app would be used by the company, and listed some categories of information that it might collect. The policy, however, did not mention that the information would also be sent to third parties, such as advertising networks. 
Consumers also were presented with a false choice when they downloaded the app, according to the complaint. Upon first opening the app, they were shown the company’s End User License Agreement, which included information on data collection. At the bottom of the license agreement, consumers could click to “Accept” or “Refuse” the terms of the agreement. Even before a consumer had a chance to accept those terms, though, the application was already collecting and sending information to third parties – including location and the unique device identifier. 
The settlement  prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting how consumers’ information is collected and shared and how much control consumers have over the way their information is used. It also r
equires the defendants to provide a just-in-time disclosure that fully informs consumers when, how, and why their geolocation information is being collected, used and shared, and requires defendants to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before doing so.   
The defendants also will be required to delete any personal information collected from consumers through the Brightest Flashlight app.