Advertising company InMobi agreed to pay $950,000 in penalties after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded the company was collecting users’ geolocation information without expressed permission.
The FTC said InMobi also violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting information from applications for children, including thousands of applications with millions of downloads. According to COPPA, they would have needed explicit permission for parents or guardians, which they did not have.
“InMobi tracked the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers, including children, without their consent, in many cases totally ignoring consumers’ express privacy preferences,” said 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.”
Android and iOS applications using the InMobi ad network would BSSID and Wi-Fi information to target users with relevant ads, based on their geolocation, regardless of whether developers intended to use ads or if users disabled their location settings.
“Under the terms of its settlement with the FTC, InMobi is subject to a $4 million civil penalty, which is suspended to $950,000 based on the company’s financial condition,” according to the FTC. “In addition, the company will be required to delete all information it collected from children, and will be prohibited from further violations of COPPA.”
InMobi was also required to start operating a privacy program for the next 20 years and abide by users’ demands concerning location privacy settings.