Android peer-to-peer developer settles privacy flap with FTC

FTC said Frostwire default settings in mobile file-sharing app jeopardized personal information

In an agreement announced today with the Federal Trade Commission, peer-to-peer file-sharing developer Frostwire can no longer use default settings that share consumers' files, provide a free upgrade its software to correct unintended sharing and bars the firm from misrepresenting what files its applications will share.

The FTC said Frostwire's P2P software currently would cause consumers to unwittingly expose personal files stored on their mobile devices.  The agency also said the company misled consumers about which downloaded files from their desktop and laptop computers would be shared with a file-sharing network.

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According to the FTC, Frostwire offers two free P2P file-sharing applications, "FrostWire Desktop" for desktop and laptop computers, and "FrostWire for Android" for Android mobile devices. The applications allow users to share files, including photos, videos, documents, and music, with other users of the Gnutella P2P file-sharing network. Once installed, the Frostwire applications allow potentially millions of people throughout the world to copy files from a user's computer with little or no notice to that user at the time the files are shared.

The FTC said: "FrostWire for Android was likely to cause consumers to unwittingly disclose personal files, like pictures and videos, stored on their smartphones and tablet computers. Frostwire had configured the application's default settings so that, immediately upon installation and set-up, it would publicly share users' photos, videos, documents, and other files stored on those devices. The agency also charged that consumers who installed some versions of the popular FrostWire Desktop application were misled into believing that files they downloaded from the Gnutella P2P file-sharing network would not be shared with other users of the network. The FTC alleged Frostwire's unfair and deceptive practices violated the Federal Trade Commission Act."

The settlement order bars Frostwire and its principal, Angel Leon, from using default settings likely to cause inadvertent public sharing of files by consumers and requires clear and prominent disclosures about file sharing and how to disable it, the FTC said.

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