Thursday, July 14, 2011

More on Phone Spam

Yesterday I wrote about AirPush, an Android add-on that allows applications to send spam to the notification bar, even when you are not using the affected app. I consider this to be the worst kind of spam.

Someone commented on my post pointing out that AirPush has an opt-out function. So, does that absolve them?

Hell no. It would if the ads included a link to the opt-out. They do not. In fact, there is no clue to where they come from. It took me a few tries with Google to figure it out and I'm a lot better at this than most people.

Without a notification you first have to figure out that AirPush is to blame then you have to do further research to find out that there is an opt-out. If you go to their web site you have to enter as a developer and check the FAQs. That's a lot of digging.

I double-checked the app that carried AirPush. It actually includes three different products that push ads. It has a detailed explanation of why it needs different permissions but it never comes out and says that you will get spam notifications or that you can opt-out. Further, all of that was changed since I installed the app last year. A more ethical developer would have included the changes to the advertizing policy at the top along with instruction on how to opt out.

To summarize, there is a way to opt-out but no one volunteers it. You have to dig to find it. That is as bad as not offering an opt-out.

If AirPush wants to be ethical then their contract should require that the developer make it clear that spam will be delivered and how to opt out. Without that they are just another shady operation that should be shut down by Google.

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