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Verizon Insists That It Isn't Going to Install Spyware on All of Its Android Phones

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A few days ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a report that Verizon plans to install highly-invasive spyware on its subscribers’ Android phones. Since then, Verizon has insisted that the “AppFlash” software is only a test run and has only been installed on one type of Android device.


The original report identified AppFlash as a piece of spyware that tracks what apps a subscriber installs. It reportedly would allow the telecom giant to “sell ads to you across the Internet based on things like which bank you use and whether you’ve downloaded a fertility app.”

When the EFF dug into AppFlash’s privacy policy, it found that the spyware collects a user’s “mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them.” It also collects a user’s location data and contact information. Sharing of that data would not be limited to Verizon itself but is also fair game for Verizon subsidiaries.


Following the report, Verizon has gone into damage control mode. We wrote about the company’s official statements about privacy yesterday. The ISP insists that is sticking to its current opt-in program of allowing customers to choose if they want their data to be sold. It’s response to the EFF report clarifies that the AppFlash software is only being tested on the LG K20 V and that users have to opt-in. Here’s the full statement:

As we said earlier this week, we are testing AppFlash to make app discovery better for consumers. The test is on a single phone – LG K20 V – and you have to opt-in to use the app. Or, you can easily disable the app. Nobody is required to use it. Verizon is committed to your privacy. Visit to view our Privacy Policy.

The EFF has since withdrawn its post while its staff looks deeper into the matter. That does not mean that the substance of the post is being retracted, only that the EFF is double-checking that Verizon is being fully transparent. In the meantime, Verizon customers using the LG K20 V might want to double-check that they haven’t inadvertently opted-in to this program.

[Electronic Frontier Foundation]