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Thursday, June 23, 2016

FTC Charges Mobile Ad Network InMobi with Tracking Child Consumers without Parental Consent

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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

June is Internet Safety Month-- And a Good Reminder to Check Your Children's Online Activities

School is almost out and that means your children will have more free time to browse the Internet (and hopefully play outside). June is Internet Safety Awareness Month--and a great time to remind ourselves to monitor what our children are doing online. 

In today's digital age it's critically important that young internet users understand how to browse the internet safely. While some children may not have the necessary judgment to understand the consequences of sharing personal information or photos, other children may choose to break the rules. That's why it's important to have a discussion about this important topic with your children.

Remember the risk that being online involves and talk to your children about how to be a safe internet user. Here are some tips to get the ball rolling:

Open Communication - Inform your child that you will be monitoring his or her behavior and explain why. Set rules and discuss them with your child in advance. 

Set Boundaries - Explain to your child what is and is not appropriate to share. Determine who they can and cannot communicate with. Set a policy about sharing photos, your location, your phone number, address, etc. Help them understand the reality involved with sharing such information as well as the potential consequences.

Monitor Online Presence - Make sure to collect your child's passwords and usernames for sites he or she wishes to use. Check regularly to ensure you approve of what information they are sharing.

Review Apps - Ensure that apps have a privacy policy and check to see what information is being collected. Verify whether the apps your child is using are free and if they are not discuss what you are comfortable with your child downloading and why. 

For more Internet safety tips, check out CARU's tips for Safety on Screen.

And now is also a great time to check your own online practices and make sure you are browsing safely and securely as well!