Popular flashlight app ‘deceived’ users into sharing location data

Night-Scavenger-Hunt-Flashlight-Search-Outside

The maker of Brightest Flashlight has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission on charges that the app “deceived consumers” into sharing location data with advertisers. While the app does allow users the ability to disable the reporting of location data to third-parties, sharing is on by default, rendering the option “meaningless,” according to the FTC. The complaint claims that the app’s privacy policy does not accurately disclose information on what type of data is being collected and how it will be used.

Goldenshores Technologies, the developer behind Brightest Flashlight, ultimately gets what amounts to a slap on the wrist, agreeing to alter their app’s privacy policy and implement a true option to disable location sharing from within the app. Users will be asked to opt-in to location data collection rather than having the function on by default.  Goldenshores Technologies must also delete any stored location data already collected by the app.

Brightest Flashlight has been downloaded over 50 million times by Android users.

[via FTC]

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  • Guest

    Didn’t realize people still used third party flashlights.

    • Jrbourque

      I always use third party flash lights. Especially on nexus devices.

  • Matt Isaacs

    Smart tools flashlight widget does a perfect job for me

  • cammykool

    CM torch ftw!

  • Big_EZ
  • http://www.twitter.com/the_sundaypaper Sebastiaan van den Berg

    That’s why it’s nice to see Samsung for example included it’s own option for a “flashlight” and LG too…

  • Appul Luver

    Thats why you buy an Apple Device

    • Tomato88

      Like.. Sheeple doesn’t track your location or anything, right?

      • Appul Luver

        Apple is a trusted company unlike google who steals your data and sells it to microsoft :)

        • squiddy20

          Too bad Google and Microsoft are direct competitors on many levels…

          • Appul Luver

            Google and microsoft are friends :) Scroogled is a friendship alliance between them

          • AndroidDogHeatandSteelersFan

            too funny. although people thumb downs when they see the word apple. watch.

        • JonnyPo

          You know your on the wrong website. Don’t you?

    • Ryan Stewart

      Actually, they have had a few of these sneak through their controls as well.

    • Blkegk

      Congratulations, you have won the stupidest post of the day!

    • renGek

      Why, do you work for the NSA because the NSA loooooves iphones with all of their security flaws: http://www.examiner.com/article/latest-snowden-leak-reveals-the-nsa-s-love-of-the-iphone

  • Roy Aguilera

    Good thing HTC has their own Flash Light app.

    • SnookGators1

      Same with Samsung

    • bblande

      Perhaps I missed this, but I didn’t see one on my new HTC One. What’s it called? (Please don’t say “flashlight” ;))

      • Cliff McQuigg

        Mine wasn’t pre-installed either. Google HTC One Flashlight APK, and you should be able to find it on XDADevelopers. I think I’m using the one pulled from the EU version of the phone since the 3 brightness settings for that one worked on mine.

        • Michael Lee

          I think it removes it after unlocking from HTC Dev. I recently installed the stock RUU for my HTC One, and I got the flashlight back. I then unlocked it again and the flashlight went away. It doesn’t make much sense, but oh well.

      • JonnyPo

        Its not an app but a widget in which you can switch on and off the LED light. I have it on my ONEs home screen. It works well cause you can adjust the level of brightness(it has three levels)

  • setspeed

    I know it’s asking a bit much of the average consumer, but reading permissions before installing an app would’ve prevented this.

  • Cliff McQuigg

    Unistalled it last night, and now I’m glad I did. I’m sure a lot of free apps are doing this, so make sure you read what each app you install can access instead of skipping over it.

    • Ryan Stewart

      Get TeslaLED, its only permissions are for access to the hardware, its one key selling point (seeing as how its hard to differentiate between flashlight apps)

  • Ryan Stewart

    Who actually uses anything but TeslaLED? Seriously, some people must just not pay any attention to what they are installing on their phone. WHy woudl a flashlight app need internet access, access to your personal data, etc?

    The primary reason I went with TeslaLED is its extremely limited permissions requests that are ONLY for access to the hardware it needs to function. Use your brain people.

    • Michael Quinlan

      “Use your brain people”… for many people, you’re asking way too much.

    • JRomeo

      “Nexus Flashlight” app is even simpler.

      • Ryan Stewart

        Looks cool. Couple more options with Tesla but that looks well thought out for an on/off toggle. Also looks to be another “only users permissions they need” app.

    • Chris

      I use “Holo Bulb”. Trying to get as many Holo apps as possible. I switched from and HTC to the S4 and I was so used to having a Flashlight app come with the phone, this was my first time having to actually use a 3rd party app for flashlights lol.

    • RussianDroid

      Hey, at least they didn’t sell people’s data to Jehovah’s witness’. Additional 50+ million annoying door to door preaching might be too much for humanity.

  • np6s4x

    yet another reason we should be able to choose what permission to accept at install, how hard is that to do really? app ops seemed to be the answer at first, but that seems to be quite the dud

    • JRomeo

      the reason this is receiving pushback is because there are some apps that do not require internet access, but they are listed on the permissions……. because the developer has 2 versions, a free version with ads, and a paid version without ads… if we can choose which permissions to accept at install, then we could disable internet ads for apps which the developer will only give away for free if they have ads…. this is kind of like cheating… if you want the app without ads you should pay for it.

      • np6s4x

        what if there was a message that appeared on first open that said to use the app a certain disabled permission must be allowed to use it?

        • mgamerz

          That might fly on power user sites like phandroid but the standard android user is far too dumb to not be scared off by that.

    • Ryan Stewart

      Because you could/would seriously wreck application functionality and it would be very hard for a developer to support it.

  • ChristianMcC

    No joke, I was looking to grab a flashlight app Wednesday night for my n5, and saw all of the permissions this one was asking for and went with my ‘go to’ for the past 4 years, nikolay’s tiny flashlight.

  • renGek

    I’m sure they are not the only one. They just got caught.
    Ever look at the permissions for facebook’s app? Why on earth do they need to be able to read your text messages?

    • Myname

      I think that’s because of the messenger app that comes with facebook. You can choose messenger to be your default sms application

    • McLean Riley

      This is true. And the best reason in the world to install app ops.

  • jackdubl

    This article needs to explain itself better. Why is there now a “true” option to disable? What wasn’t “true” about the first one? According to your article, you could disable it originally and you can disable it now, so what changed exactly?

  • Hipking23

    Both my GS3 & GS4 comes with a flashlight app, so no need to download any bogus apps.

  • Jerel Butler

    I wonder why OEM don’t make a torch like CM. Or even galaxy active

    • WickedToby741

      I really don’t know why a flashlight hasn’t been included as a quick toggle in the notification shade in stock Android. Sends like a rather simple and useful inclusion.

      • AndroidDogHeatandSteelersFan

        Because ios has it.

      • Hipking23

        Galaxy S3 & 4 has it, plus I think ink some HTC phones have it pre installed.

      • Matt Davis

        Hi,
        There is an app in android which does the same, it allows you to turn on/off your flash light from notification bar ,widget and in-app. I loved it. here is a link to that https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.accubits.android.blixt

        Regards,
        Matt

  • steveb944

    I hope people review burn this app into oblivion.

    I use ‘Tiny Flashlight + LED’. I gave it a download since my first Android I think and I’ve never had issues.

    • AndroidDogHeatandSteelersFan

      That one leaks your contacts data.

      • Nikolay Ananiev

        Hello,
        I’m the developer of Tiny Flashlight and I can assure you that my app does not leak any personal info.

        • AndroidDogHeatandSteelersFan

          Tesla is better.

  • Dustin Anglin

    Power Toggles for me

  • Matt Davis

    Found an Awesome new Flash Light App. It allows us to turn on/off the flash light from NOTIFICATION BAR, which can be accessed while using any other app. It also has a nice widget and developers promised that there would not be any ads or unwanted permission requirements.I loved it. here is a link to that app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.accubits.android.blixt

    • Shawn Richards

      I tried this Matt. Its an awesome app. I like the way you use Turn ON/OFF on notification. That’s so useful to me.