On Thursday, December 5th the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a settlement with Goldenshore Technologies, producer of the “Brightest Flashlight Free” app (“Flashlight App”), one of the top free apps available for Google’s Android operating system. The Flashlight App works by activating lights on Android phones, including the LED flash, which turns users’ smartphones into a flashlight.
The FTC alleged that Goldenshore’s failure to disclose the full scope of its information practices was “deceptive” under the FTC Act.
The Flashlight App case provides a few lessons for app developers:
- The failure to disclose information about how an app collects, uses, or shares data may be considered “deceptive” by the FTC; in other words, the FTC is concerned with omissions as well as affirmative misrepresentations.
- Consumers and regulators expect apps to collect and share only the information necessary to provide the apps’ functions, and the collection and sharing of “extra” information will raise eyebrows.
- Opt outs must provide users with real choices, and they must be honored by developers. Developers should also limit the collection of information via an app before users have the opportunity to exercise choice.