The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned a dozen of Android developers on the use of notorious software Silverpush in building their applications for the platform. Should users in the United States be bothered about the matter?
The FTC recently sent out a letter through email to the developers of 12 mobile apps available from the Google Play Store that are said to come fitted with a software development kit developed by Silverpush.
"Silverpush makes available for application developers a 'Unique Audio Beacon' technology that enables mobile applications to listen for unique codes embedded into television audio signals in order to determine what television shows or advertisements are playing on a nearby television," reads [pdf] the letter.
It says that this particular functionality is intended to run silently in the background, even though the user is not using the app.
With Silverpush, the Android device's microphone can detect the television playing in the background. This then allows information on the TV habits of users to be passed along to third-party advertising firms.
Silverpush claims that at the moment, the SilverPush code is not yet being embedded in any television programming in the United States. The FTC notes in its letter to the Android developers, though, that once it finds that the apps are equipped with the code to monitor the television-viewing habits of consumers within the United States, and "[their] statements or user interface stated or implied otherwise," then it could mean a breach of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Section five of the FTC Act provides that "unfair or deceptive acts or practices," which affect commerce are deemed illegal.
The FTC is encouraging the developers to tell this fact to their consumers that will then allow them to have an informed decision as to what personal details to disclose once they use their apps. On top of that, the commission reminds them that its staff will keep on monitoring the apps in the succeeding months.
The app developers' names are not yet presently disclosed, since the FTC did not reveal them into the letter shown to the public. Moreover, it is not yet known whether there are iOS apps involved in this issue, since the FTC only says in the letter that the apps can be downloaded via Google Play Store.
Photo: Jereme Rauckman | Flickr