Verizon will install spyware on all its Android phones

Jos

Posts: 3,073   +97

Update: Verizon has issued the following statement: "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." The EFF also said it has withdrawn its original report while it investigates further.

Verizon has announced that a new launcher called AppFlash will join its range of preinstalled applications. The carrier hopes customers will use it to search for everything from restaurants to music to mobile apps, but given it doesn’t appear to be capable of doing anything that the Google’s default launcher isn’t already capable of, it seems its primary function is going to be collecting user data.

The timing of the announcement is worth noting given that just three days ago, the U.S. Congress voted to repeal internet privacy rules that would have forced Internet service providers to obtain consent before selling your web browsing history to third parties for the purpose of targeted advertising.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes the privacy policy published by Verizon states the app can be used to collect information like your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them, as well as access information about the list of apps you have on your device.

AppFlash also collects information about your device’s precise location from your device operating system as well as contact information you store on your device, and specifically mentions it may share this information within the Verizon family of companies for advertising purposes.

Realistically, Google collects much of this data, and Verizon does note that you can control what information AppFlash collects about your device and opt-out of targeted advertising. That’s not to say this isn’t worrisome — you could argue Google provides a lot of value through its services while AppFlash is just leeching off of them. EFF also comments on the security angle, noting that AppFlash expands the attack surface that hackers will be probing for vulnerabilities.

Evie Labs, the developer behind AppFlash, doesn’t have a contractual requirement to Verizon and plans to offer its software to other carrier/OEM partners if this initial rollout goes well.

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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,066   +1,386
So the question is should I get off android or just get off verizon?

I mean apple seems to be slightly better about privacy than google. But I hate the ecosystem and the hardware.

Maybe I should just get a flip phone...
 

psycros

Posts: 3,197   +3,394
So the question is should I get off android or just get off verizon?

I mean apple seems to be slightly better about privacy than google. But I hate the ecosystem and the hardware.

Maybe I should just get a flip phone...
Just never buy a phone from a carrier - no spyware, bloatware, etc. But make very sure that the carrier doesn't require you to install their sh*tware as a condition of having their service..that's undoubtedly what they'll be trying next. And yeah, Apple may not have quite the flexibility of Android but its getting closer and it a better experience overall (and considerably more secure). I don't like how their starting to put more multi-directional swiping into iOS, though..makes it harder to use, I.e. more Android-like.
 
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Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442
I'm just waiting for the iOS fanboys to go nuts over this and will absolutely refuse to believe that Apple would ever collect and store data about its users.
 
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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,984   +2,432
So the question is should I get off android or just get off verizon?

I mean apple seems to be slightly better about privacy than google. But I hate the ecosystem and the hardware.

Maybe I should just get a flip phone...
I prefer iOS, but if my only choices were flip phone or android, I'd go flip. The level of tracking and data scraping everybody does these days is insane.
 

robb213

Posts: 348   +114
This isn't really new, just more in line with what they already do. On a lot of phones, such as my HTC 10, they pre installed DT Ignite.

The purpose of that program is to randomly install applications without the user's consent.
 

jobeard

Posts: 13,970   +1,778
I'm just waiting for the iOS fanboys to go nuts over this and will absolutely refuse to believe that Apple would ever collect and store data about its users.
And the Windows & Andriod fangirls whine before they're hurt.
 

Emexrulsier

Posts: 615   +88
I'm just waiting for the iOS fanboys to go nuts over this and will absolutely refuse to believe that Apple would ever collect and store data about its users.
No they don't collect data they just leave massive holes in their system so hackers from around the globe can enter and take what they like.
 

Nobina

Posts: 2,660   +2,291
Yeah because what could go wrong with them, it's not like they can put something in there somewhere to track users... nah that couldn't happen on a custom rom.
It is possible but unlikely and if there was a custom ROM with tracking in it people would find out quickly.
 
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