App Stole User Data for Marketers

The privacy movement poses plenty of threats to marketing data even without app-makers giving all of us a bad name. Yet, on Dec. 5, the FTC announced that the Brightest Flashlight app by GoldenShores Technologies has been illegally collecting detailed consumer location information, along with individual phone identification data, and passing that information on to its advertisers. All without asking consumers for permission to do so.

The most frustrating part of this story to me is not that an app tracked my detailed location data and unique phone ID without my permission (full disclosure, I had installed it on an old phone), but that it dragged direct marketing’s name through the mud in the process. Just look how the BBC reports the app “deceived millions” in order to supposedly give its advertisers their location info.

Did any of Brightest Flashlight’s advertisers ask the app to do that? Almost certainly not, yet there we are again, playing Snidely Whiplash in the tale of a tech company abusing consumers in order to make a buck. If incidents like this keep happening, sooner or later it’s going to come back to us as legislation against the tools you need to perform target marketing.

What can we do to keep irresponsible data collection like this from giving marketers a bad name? Let us know in the comments.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.