50 million Android users can certainly be wronged:
Even judging by the low standards of creepy data-mining apps, “Brightest Flashlight” did something pretty egregious. The free app, which was installed by at least 50 million Android users, transmitted users’ real-time locations to ad networks and other third parties. It was, in other words, a stalking device disguised as a flashlight.
But here’s the kicker:
In a Wednesday announcement, the FTC confirmed that GoldenShores and owner Erik Geidl are not to collect app users’ geolocation without clearly explaining how and why they’re doing so and, in broad terms, say who is receiving that information. The flashlight app maker will also have to keep records for the FTC to inspect, and Geidl will have to tell the agency about any new businesses he decides to start in the next 10 years. He also has 10 days as of the order to delete all the data he collected.
On paper, the order looks like stern stuff but, in practice, it’s hard to see how this amounts to real punishment.
Open is better. And the government will protect you.
What I want to know is, how does a flashlight app get access to a user’s personal goodies? And if a flashlight app can do it, what app can’t?