InMobi Fined $950K by FTC For Tracking Consumer Location Without Permission!
InMobi, a Singapore & India based startup founded by Indian techies is in soup as the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) slapped a civil penalty for which InMobi will has consented to pay $950,000.
FTC has charged InMobi with invading personal privacy of it’s customers by deviously tracking their location even when consumer’s opted out of the tracking feature. The company has been tracking locations of it’s customers including children to provide advertising based on their location.
The FTC also brings to light that InMobi mislead it’s customers vowing to untrack when opted so, in the device settings but hasn’t really stuck to it’s vow.
All this is alarming now as we discover that without the knowledge of the consumers and even after having opted for untracking to ensure personal privacy, InMobi blatantly misused it’s consumer’s data.
Many sites use InMobi’s software to display their ads on mobile, many with a feature to deny access to the user’s location but the feature was disabled without the user’s knowledge even when the user specifically chose to deny access to his/her location.
This has enraged most users and definitely the FTC and the company has now been fined and with all eyes watching it closely, it’s not wrong to say that InMobi’s brand name has been dragged through dirt and whether it’ll retain it’s old shine is a question many choose not to answer.
The director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Jessica Rich maintained, “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 honor consumers’ privacy choices in the future, and will be held accountable for keeping their privacy promises.”
Also in the process of procuring the consumer’s location, the company has also built up a database of the information procured while tracking the user’s geolocation information.
The FTC has charged the company under Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) as the company blatantly disregarding the privacy of children collected personal information without the guardian’s permission and targeted many child loving apps where it could be at an advantage.
The road ahead for InMobi is to erase all the information it stored from misrepresenting it’s app features and to pay the penalty of $950,000 based on it’s financial conditions but the penalty may stretch to $4 million.
The company will now be subject to stringent audits to ensure all the incompliances are written off. It must henceforth uphold the principles of privacy and not subject it’s users to geo-targeted advertisements without availing their consent.
Naveen Tewari, Mohit Saxena, Amit Gupta and Abhay Singhal founded company had previously received Softbank’s approval to be funded upto $200 million. InMobi has been successful in driving sales for many e-commerce sites like Myntra, Flipkart etc which use InMobi as it’s advertising software.
Deceptively snatching user’s privacy will one day cost you your own privacy. Perhaps!, a costly lesson InMobi can’t afford to forget.