Smart phoneapps can make life easier, putting dozens of useful tools in the palm of yourhand. But BBB is warning consumers to make sure the apps they download don’ttake more information than they need to do the job.
In a recentsettlementby the Federal Trade Commission, the agency found that a flashlight app’s privacypolicy had been deceiving users into sharing their geographic location anddevice information with advertising networks and other third parties. “BrightestFlashlight Free," developed by Goldenshores Technologies, LLC, is oneof the most popular apps on Android mobile devices and has been downloaded morethan 10 million times.
GoldenshoresTechnologies has agreed to settle the FTC charges. The settlement goes on toprohibit the company from misrepresenting how users' information is collectedand shared and how much control users have over the way the information isshared. It also requires defendants to obtain consumers’ affirmativeexpress consent before collecting, using and sharing information.
It’s notalways easy to tell if an app is going to collect your information or how itwill use it. BBB is urging smart phone users to:
· Researchcompanies and apps before downloading, including industry publications and userreviews;
· Optout of location sharing when prompted;
· Periodicallycheck all privacy settings on your smart phone and keep them set as high as youcan without altering the functions of your apps (some apps, like maps andcompasses, need geo-location information in order to work properly);
· Updateyour apps when a new version comes out (your phone should alert you); often appupdates fix “bugs” from earlier versions;
· Deleteapps you no longer use from your phone.
Forinformation on apps for children, check out BBB’s Children’sAdvertising Review Unit.
For moretips you can trust, visit bbb.org.