Electronic Frontier Foundation withdraws initial AppFlash story pending review

Android / Mobile / Security / Tech
AppFlash

Verizon responded to the EFF with a statement that both ensured this was not a widespread rollout and that customers will have the ability to opt-out of install.

Just a few days ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted a story about AppFlash coming to Verizon phones. AppFlash is an app launcher that is designed to help users locate useful information quickly. AppFlash is pretty much a search tool which also collects user data to sell advertising, not unlike Google search. The EFF had reported that AppFlash would start rolling out to all Verizon phones very soon and there was no opt-out of it.

Quote redacted by the EFF until further investigation.

Within days of Congress repealing online privacy protections, Verizon has announced new plans to install software on customers’ devices to track what apps customers have downloaded. With this spyware, Verizon will be able to sell ads to you across the Internet based on things like which bank you use and whether you’ve downloaded a fertility app.

Verizon’s use of “AppFlash”—an app launcher and web search utility that Verizon will be rolling out to their subscribers’ Android devices “in the coming weeks”—is just the latest display of wireless carriers’ stunning willingness to compromise the security and privacy of their customers by installing spyware on end devices.

Verizon responded to the EFF with a statement that both ensured this was not a widespread rollout and that customers will have the ability to opt-out of install.

Verizon statement:

We have received additional information from Verizon and based on that information we are withdrawing this post while we investigate further. Here is the statement from Kelly Crummey, Director of Corporate Communications of Verizon: “As we said earlier this week, we are testing AppFlash to make app discovery better for consumers. The test is on a single phone – LG K20 V – and you have to opt-in to use the app. Or, you can easily disable the app. Nobody is required to use it. Verizon is committed to your privacy. Visit www.verizon.com/about/privacy to view our Privacy Policy.”

The recent actions that were taken by Congress to repeal the bill that would strengthen consumer privacy have users and media knee-jerking at every turn. While it’s disappointing that the bill was repealed, it really was never in place to begin with and nothing has really changed. We’re just not going to see the change that we wanted to see come as we thought we would. I think many users have been confused thinking that these privacy rules were already in place and suddenly we’re all fair game for ISP’s to buy and sell our data. One thing is certain, the battle over online privacy isn’t going to end that easily. We will be reading a lot more about all of this as the months wear on.

What do you think of the EFF pulling back their initial post about Verizon’s AppFlash move? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: EFF
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