FTC warns Android developers about apps that monitor users’ TV habits

Adam Westlake - Mar 19, 2016
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FTC warns Android developers about apps that monitor users’ TV habits

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued warnings to a handful of Android app developers using controversial software that could invade users' privacy without their knowledge. Known as "SilverPush," the advertising framework can use an Android device's microphone to listen for television shows in the background, in turn providing third-party advertisers with information on users' viewing habits.

The FTC says it has sent letters to 12 developers with apps discovered to be using the SilverPush software. The developers and apps weren't specifically named, however they are all available on the Google Play Store.

Ever notice how opening certain third-party apps for the first time prompts a request to access certain data — like a camera app that asks permission to access the camera roll? Well, the FTC found that these Android apps were asking for microphone access, but didn't have a good reason for needing it, in addition to failing to explain to users what information they were collecting.

The government agency's warning noted that the apps "would be capable of producing a detailed log of the television content viewed while a user's mobile device was turned on for the purpose of targeted advertising software and analytics."

SilverPush's creators apparently claim that their software isn't yet used in the US, but the FTC warns that its appearance in apps could be illegal — and the developers held responsible — if users aren't made aware of what data is being collected and why.

SOURCE Federal Trade Commission


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