Singapore-based Indian-operated mobile advertising outfit InMobi has been charged $950,000 in civil penalties by the US Federal Trade Commission after tracking the location of consumers without their consent.
Hundreds of millions of people, including children, had their locations tracked and were served geo-targeted advertisements, without their knowledge or consent.
InMobi had claimed that it would only track the locations of users who had previously opted in via the app's permissions settings.
In actuality, it transpired that location was being tracked even when users expressly refused permisson to do so.
The FTC has alleged that, as some of the apps involved were aimed at children, InMobi's actions were also in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) - specifically, in failing to get parental consent.
US mobile developer TinyCo has also previously found itself on the receiving end of FTC fines for contravening COPPA, costing the firm $300,000.
Paying its dues
“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.”
The FTC deemed that InMobi is subject to a $4 million penalty, but suspended to $950,000 based on the firm's financial condition.
Full compliance with regulations has been ordered going forward, as well as the deletion of all location information it collected without consent.