Privacy concern raised over search service on Verizon phones

03 April, 2017, 06:33 | Author: Patsy Dennis
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The EFF warned that if Verizon does roll this out to more phones, the app might present an opportunity for hackers to get into its phones.

Verizon says AppFlash will be tested initially on a single phone, LG's K20 V. Verizon has offered no details on its plans beyond that, though the app is for Android only and Apple forbids carriers from shipping iPhones with their own apps already installed.

The EFF has since withdrawn its post while its staff looks deeper into the matter.

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Recently, both the US House and Senate voted largely on partisan lines (Republicans for, Democrats against) to overturn the FCC's new privacy rules that were supposed to protect broadband customers against internet service providers collecting their data and selling it without their consent.

Verizon is using this spyware to serve up ads based on which porn your browse and whatever else you have used the internet for.

According to the EFF, Verizon's use of AppFlash is a "display of wireless carriers' stunning willingness to compromise the security and privacy of their customers by installing spyware on end devices".

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Verizon's media and telematics unit will focus on growing the company's new businesses in digital media, including integrating its pending acquisition of Yahoo Inc.

Verizon seems to be saying that at least the location tracking will be done with your permission, although it's not clear how exactly this will be implemented, and whether or not it will be truly opt-in for the smartphone user. As The EFF noted, AppFlash will basically act as a legitimate spyware, storing vast amounts of data about the user's mobile usage - including what apps are being used, and how long are they being used for. Plus, you can delete the app. Verizon says customers will be able to easily disable the service, and no one will be required to use it. "Visit www.verizon.com/about/privacy to view our Privacy Policy".

Reports of the types of data to be collected, as one can imagine, sat noxious with users, especially in light of mounting contention of privacy protection, a concept harmed by the recent Congress vote to repeal FCC's privacy rules set in place past year. While it's disappointing that the bill was repealed, it really was never in place to begin with and nothing has really changed. Aside from the lock-in due to a multi-year contract, carrier-specific phones are loaded with all sorts of apps and services that we don't want and, in many cases, can't get rid of.

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What do you think of the EFF pulling back their initial post about Verizon's AppFlash move?

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