FTC: Flashlight app shared users' location data

The maker of a popular flashlight app agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday over charges that it shared its users' location information with advertisers.

The FTC claimed that the "Brightest Flashlight" app, which is available for Android devices, failed to disclose to its users that it would transmit their exact location to third parties.

The FTC said the app engaged in a deceptive business practice by including a fake option to opt-out of the data-sharing.


“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,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “But this flashlight app left them in the dark about how their information was going to be used.”

The app, which uses the phone's camera flash as a flashlight, has been downloaded tens of millions of times, the FTC said.

The settlement requires Goldenshores Technologies to delete any personal information it collected. The company must also obtain affirmative consent before sharing location information in the future.

The firm did not respond to a request to comment. 

Privacy advocates argue that location information can reveal particularly sensitive details about a person's life. Privacy groups were outraged to learn Wednesday from a leak by Edward Snowden that the NSA has been collecting billions of records daily about the locations of cellphones abroad.