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SilverPush: This software could violate consumer privacy rights.

 

SilverPush: This software could violate consumer privacy rights.

The FTC has issued a warning to several Android developers for using SilverPush. This software, found on 12 Android apps, could violate consumer privacy rights by picking up background noise to feed to advertisers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning to a handful of Google Android application developers after it emerged that they were using controversial software that could violate users’ privacy rights without their knowledge.

The software, called SilverPush, turns on an Android device’s microphone and can pick up background sounds to better target advertisers. The functionality is designed to run silently in the background, even while the user is not actively using the application. Using this technology, SilverPush could generate a detailed log of the television content viewed while a user’s mobile phone was turned on. The FTC letter noted that for the time being, SilverPush has represented that its audio beacons are not currently embedded into any television programming aimed at US households.

However, if the applications enabled third parties to monitor television-viewing habits of US consumers and the app developer’s statements or user interface stated or implied otherwise, it could constitute a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act — specifically, Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. In the letter issued to 12 developers whose apps include SilverPush technology, the FTC notes that the application requires permission to access the mobile device’s microphone prior to install, despite no evident functionality in the application that would require such access.