Better Business Bureau: Warning, smartphone apps may share your information
Smartphone apps were a great discovery for me. I can check the weather, check my email, play games and keep track of my route when I go out for a run. There are so many great free apps available. Better Business Bureau even has a free app for iPhone.
Unfortunately, many of those free apps come with strings attached, often collecting your information for marketing purposes. Most of the time, they do that with your consent (assuming you read the agreement terms before you clicked).
There's a chance your information could be shared without your consent, however. The bureau warns to make sure the apps you download don't take more information than they need to do the job.
Goldenshores Technologies agreed to settle the FTC charges. The settlement prohibits the company from misrepresenting how users' information is collected and shared and how much control users have over the way the information is shared. It also requires them to get consumers' consent before collecting, using and sharing information.
It's not always easy to tell if an app is going to collect your information or how it will use it. Better Business Bureau is urging smartphone users to:
Research companies and apps before downloading, including industry publications and user reviews;
Opt out of location sharing when prompted;
Periodically check all privacy settings on your smartphone and keep them set as high as you can without altering the functions of your apps (some apps, like maps and compasses, need geolocation information to work properly);
Update your apps when a new version comes out (your phone should alert you); often app updates fix bugs from earlier versions;
Delete apps you no longer use from your phone.
For information on apps for children, check out the bureau's Children's Advertising Review Unit.
Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.