Artificial flashlights

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Ben Shofet, graphics editor

For iPhones and Androids alike, there are the apps that collect so much of our personal information blantaly, like Facebook and Twitter. However, there is one type of apps that steal much more information, without the knowledge of their 500 users.

“We’ve all become victims of installing many apps on our smartphones and tablets that do much more than the service they should provide. We have opened a Pandora’s Box to online predators, cyber criminals and spies all through these apps we foolishly trust,” CEO of Snoop Wall Gary Miliefsky said in an interview with FOX News.

In a recent study made by Snoop Wall, the company whose CEO was one of the founding members of the Department of Homeland Security, there are about 500 third party flashlight apps that have the ability to spy its users. Applications like “Brightest Flashlight Free” are able to track their users instant location and modify their phone setting without their knowledge.

“The top 10 flashlights apps today that you can download from the Google Play store are all malware. They’re malicious, they’re spying, they’re snooping and they’re stealing. We’ve installed malware and not known about it,” Miliefsky said.

These flashlight applications have the capability to do much more than turn on and off your flashlight. They are able to collect a great deal of personal information which is most frequently sent sent to China, India and Russia for criminal purposes, according to Snoop Wall.

“My dad once told me about how Flashlight apps could spy on you but I never really believed him. But once I saw the report I was completely shocked about how much of my personal information is being stolen from me,” junior Daniel Nourafshan said. “I immediately uninstalled the app on my phone.”

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decided to step in and eliminate the intrusive flashlight apps. They targeted the second most downloaded flashlight app on the Google Play store, “Brightest Flashlight Free.” However, the FTC’s effort to put an end to these apps could only go so far.

“The privacy policy is 25 pages of legally saying, ‘Yes we spy on you, yes we geolocate you, and yes we want your mobile data off your phone, we want all of this info. If not, don’t run our app, ‘and most people don’t read it and they hit accept. That was their settlement with the FTC,” Miliefsky said.

Although the FTC’s involvement was not as effective as they had hoped, there are many alternatives to the intrusive flashlight apps on the app store.

With Apple’s releasement of iOS 8, there is a pre-installed flashlight app for users, eliminating the need to download a third party app ever again. Windows phones have also done the same for their users. According to Snoop Wall, these pre-installed flashlights only capabilities are to turn off and on the flashlight on the phone and nothing more.

Snoop Wall has also released a privacy flashlight for users of smartphones who do not already have a pre-installed flashlight application.

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