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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013

Clarkrage

Flashlight app settles with FTC over spying

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Are you one of the 100 million smartphone users spied on by a free flashlight app without your knowledge or permission?

Brightest Flashlight is a free Android app that's immensely popular. There are several apps like this, but the basic idea is Brightest Flashlight takes the flash that's built into your cellphone and makes it stay on like a flashlight.

But the Federal Trade Commission reports the app was capturing info on you. It would report your location and unique device identifier to advertisers and marketing networks. Even when you took the option *not* to share your info, the FTC says they were doing it anyway.

Now the developers of the flashlight app have settled with the FTC over spying. They will have to clearly disclose all the spying that goes on when you use their app, plus they'll be required to delete any previously collected info on users.

The reality is we are still in Wild West with electronic spying. We've taken in the US a very libertarian stance that the marketplace will sort it out. That's different than how they're doing it in Europe. So far our stance has created a lot of innovative, but it's also brought about a lot of invasions of privacy.

We're still in frontier days here. It's very possible that we might need some rules of road. Just know that some technology -- whether it's a free app or an expensive smart TV -- is likely spying on you. Your info is being sold and packaged, in many cases without your knowledge or permission. And that to me is Clarkrageous.

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