On February 5, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has agreed to settle its case against Vulcun alleging that it “unfairly replaced a popular web browser game with a program that installed applications on consumers’ mobile devices without their permission.”
Vulcun purchased the game Running Fred, which is used by over 200,000 users, and replaced it with Vulcun’s extension application directly onto Android devices, and bypassed the Android operating system permission process.
According to the FTC, “After Vulcun acquired the Running Fred game, they used it to install a different app, commandeer people’s computers, and bombard them with ads.” After doing so, numerous consumers complained to Google, the owner of Google Chrome and Android, stating that apps were being installed on their devices without their permission, and would reinstall after being deleted.
The settlement includes the requirement that Vulcun tell consumers about the types of information accessible through a product or service, how it will be used, display permissions notices and get consumers’ affirmative consent before installing or materially changing a product or service. It also requires it to delete all information from consumers that it collected prior to the date of the order within 10 days. As with most settlements, the order will be in effect for the next 20 years. The agreement with Vulcun is available for public comment through March 8, 2016 and then will be voted on by the Commission.