Frostwire LLC, a peer-to-peer file-sharing application developer, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that its software likely would cause consumers to unwittingly expose sensitive personal files stored on their mobile devices, and that it misled consumers about which downloaded files from their desktop and laptop computers would be shared with a file-sharing network. The settlement bars Frostwire from using default settings that share consumers’ files, requires it to provide free upgrades to correct the unintended sharing, and bars misrepresentations about what files its applications will share.
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 complaint alleged that 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 proposed 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. It also bars them from making material misrepresentations about the file-sharing behavior of their applications and prohibits them from distributing copies of the unlawful versions of the applications, and requires them to provide free upgrades that stop sharing files that the legacy applications had shared by default.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
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