Concerns over AppFlash In Android Phones On Verizon

According to Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Verizon is going to put AppFlash App launchers for all of its Android users. This is like putting spyware into subscriber’s phones to track their downloading habits for the display of relevant ads.

EFF further said that the use of AppFlash is a display of the wireless carrier’s willingness to compromise the security and privacy of their Android users through the installation of spyware on the devices. In the later part of March, Verizon announced that it was working with Evie, a search technology provider for the creation of AppFlash as a default search tool for Android users on Verizon. Users simply have to swipe left on their home screen to access the search features and receive recommendations from AppFlash .

According to Corbin Davenport on Android Police, the new launcher does not offer any functionality above and beyond what is already being offered by a standard Google search. This provides further proof on the theory that AppFlash exists only for information collection and marketing purposes.

Another concern is the privacy policy of AppFlash itself that can be viewed through the Verizon website. To put it simply, AppFlash will collect information about the device and how AppFlash services are used. The information collected will include mobile number, device identifiers, device type, operating system, and list of apps on the device. AppFlash will also seek for permission to collect information on the device’s precise location through the device’s OS and contact information stored on the device.

This is a matter of grave concern to some because according to the policy, users have control over the collection of information and contact information from the settings on the device so that they can opt out of targeted advertising. Aside from the concerns on privacy, EFF says that AppFlash increases the attack surface on Android devices.

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