The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled charges with InMobi, a mobile advertising company, for deceptively tracking the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers (including children) around the world (which the FTC charged is a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). InMobi will pay a fine of $950,000.
The FTC alleged that InMobi gathered geolocation information on mobile device users without knowledge or permission and then utilized that information to serve geo-targeted advertising. InMobi misrepresented that it would only track consumers' locations if they opted in. However, according to the FTC complaint, InMobi was tracking consumers' locations even when consumers expressly denied permission to do so. The company did so by collecting information about the WiFi networks that the consumer’s device connected to or that were in-range of the consumer’s device.
In addition to ceasing its deceptive practices like geolocating devices without user's permission, the settlement deal also requires InMobi to delete any information it collected on children. According to Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, “This settlement ensures that InMobi will honor consumers’ privacy choices in the future, and will be held accountable for keeping their privacy promises.”
For further details on the settlement, visit the FTC's Press Release online.