According to reports, Singapore-based mobile advertising company, InMobi has been deceptively tracking locations of hundreds of millions of consumers to serve them geo-targeted advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged them an amount of $950, 000 in civil penalties asking them to implement comprehensive privacy program to settle charges.
FTC has alleged that InMobi was actually tracking consumers’ locations whether or not the apps using InMobi’s software asked for consumers’ permission to do so, and even when consumers had denied permission to access their location information.
Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “InMobi tracked the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers, including children, without their consent, in many cases totally ignoring consumers’ express privacy preferences.”
“This settlement ensures that InMobi will honour consumers’ privacy choices in the future, and will be held accountable for keeping their privacy promises,” she further added.
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.
The company has to delete the information of consumers’ location it collected without their consent and will be prohibited from further misrepresenting its privacy practices.
The FTC has also alleged that InMobi violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting this information from apps that were clearly directed at children, in spite of promising that it would not do so. InMobi’s software tracked location in thousands of child-directed apps with hundreds of millions of users.
Founded in 2007 by Naveen Tewari, InMobi currently has around 1,500 employees compared to twice that number when it was at its peak. Softbank, in 2011, had invested $200 million into InMobi but wrote down most of that amount in 2014. InMobi was estimated to be valued at $1 billion, which now generates between around $300 million in annual revenue.