Tag: ftc

Illegal location tracking leads to massive fine for InMobi

InMobi has agreed to settle charges from US FTC and will pay nearly $1 million in penalties.

Illegal location tracking charges have been placed against Indian-based mobile advertising company InMobi by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The mobile ad network is subject to a $4 million fine by the FTC for deceptively tracking the locations of consumers. However, the fine was lowered to $950,000, due to the company’s financial condition.

Hundreds of millions of consumers were tracked, including children.

The FTC alleges that InMobi illegally tracked consumers’ locations and used this information for behaviorally targeted advertising. InMobi’s advertising software tracked the locations of consumer’s when they opted in, but not always in accordance with their device’s privacy settings. The company was actually tracking the locations of consumers regardless of whether or not the apps using the company’s software asked the consumer’s permission. Even when consumer denied permission to access their location information, they were tracked anyway.

Illegal Location TrackingTo make matters worse, according to the FTC, InMobi also violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It did so by collecting information from applications that were directed at children, even though InMobi promised that it didn’t.

What the FTC discovered was that InMobi developed a database built on the information the company gathered from consumers who allowed InMobi to access their geolocation data. This data was combined with the wireless networks that were near consumers in order to document the physical location of the actual wireless networks. The company then used that database to deduce the consumer’s physical location based on the networks they were close to. This occurred even when they had the location collection feature of their device turned off.

In addition to its illegal location tracking fine, InMobi must adhere to stiff rules.

Aside from paying the $950,000 fine, InMobi must also delete all the data it collected from children. The company will be prohibited from collecting the location information from consumers without their express consent. They will also be required to honor the location privacy settings of their consumers. Additionally, information collected without consent must also be deleted.

The settlement resulting from the illegal location tracking fiasco will also require InMobi to set up a comprehensive privacy program. For the next 20 years, this privacy program will be independently audited every two years.

Wearable technology hackers sought by FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking them for their broadened mobile tech unit and for the internet of things.

The FTC is responsible for the oversight of a broad range of different operations that investigate tech practices of companies, looking into issues such as data security and privacy and is now looking for hackers for areas such as wearable technology, mobile tech, and for the internet of things.

The Mobile Technology Unit (MTU) isn’t anything new at the FTC, but it is seeing a sizeable expansion.

The MTU performs independent investigations into a range of different components of the mobile environment. Recently, a number of the efforts of this unit were placed in the spotlight as it worked to spread awareness of the perceived dangers between certain mobile apps and their use by young children, in addition to the types of overall risks that are connected with mobile commerce activities. The tech under the FTC’s oversight is rapidly evolving and it must now keep an eye on everything from wearable technology to entire smart households.

As wearable technology and the internet of things come into play, the MTU has undergone its own evolution.

FTC - Wearable TechnologyIn this, the MTU is now being converted into the Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTRI), and it will be experiencing a massive expansion of its role. It will now be overseeing wearables, smart homes, connected vehicles, mobile payment methods, and anything else that can be defined in a way that it would be categorized as a part of the internet of things.

Along with expansion, the FTC is looking to boost its staff with people who would be capable of hacking into each of those various forms of consumer technology. It is also on the lookout for a full time position that would be responsible for the coordination of all of the projects that would result from the OTRI research. There is also a two-year research fellowship being made available to recent grads with the right combination of policy and tech education.

These latest moves by the FTC are a reflection of the pace and size of the growth of wearable technology and other connected devices in homes, vehicles and on our very person.