How’s that for timing. Just as Congress passes a resolution to roll back privacy regulations, Verizon announces a new bloatware app designed to hoover up your data for targeted advertising. As companies look to take advantage of their new found freedom, this is likely to be only the first of many apps created by carriers and ISPs to spy on their users.
According to TechCrunch, the app is named AppFlash, and it’s designed to be a mobile search hub on Android that will live a swipe to the left away from your home screen. Verizon imagines customers will use it to search for everything from restaurants to music to mobile apps, but it seems its primary function is going to be collecting user data.
How intrusive will this new mobile targeting be? Well, as the EFF points out, knowing the apps you have installed can deliver some very personal information to advertisers. Downloaded a fertility tracker? Get ready for some advertising for baby products. How about a meditation app? Well, you’re probably in need of some anxiety medication.
We have questions for Verizon regarding AppFlash (most importantly: can you uninstall it?), but when it comes to ISPs and mobile carriers collecting customers’ information, this app, unfortunately, is not entirely new. In 2011, for example, there was the Carrier IQ controversy, in which a number of carriers admitted to installing software on customers’ phones that tracked data, including browser history and app usage.
But while the Carrier IQ saga ended with a class action lawsuit, it’s not clear where the boundaries for user privacy lie under new FCC chairman Ajit Pai. And although some of the more intrusive trackers in Verizon’s new app are optional, for privacy-minded customers that’s only going to be a small consolation.
You must log in to post a comment.