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Advertising Privacy Security

Advertiser That Tracked Around 100M Phone Users Without Consent Pays $950,000 (arstechnica.com) 31

Mobile advertising firm InMobi will be paying a fine of $950,000 and revamp its services to resolve federal regulators' claims that it deceptively tracked locations of hundreds of millions of people, including children. Ars Technica reports:The US Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint filed Wednesday that Singapore-based InMobi undermined phone users' ability to make informed decisions about the collection of their location information. While InMobi claimed that its software collected geographical whereabouts only when end users provided opt-in consent, the software in fact used nearby Wi-Fi signals to infer locations when permission wasn't given, FTC officials alleged. InMobi then archived the location information and used it to push targeted advertisements to individual phone users. Specifically, the FTC alleged, InMobi collected nearby basic service set identification addresses, which act as unique serial numbers for wireless access points. The company, which thousands of Android and iOS app makers use to deliver ads to end users, then fed each BSSID into a "geocorder" database to infer the phone user's latitude and longitude, even when an end user hadn't provided permission for location to be tracked through the phone's dedicated location feature.
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Advertiser That Tracked Around 100M Phone Users Without Consent Pays $950,000

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  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:21PM (#52368509)

    Nice to know the courts value our privacy so dearly!

  • Good ROI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:30PM (#52368597) Homepage Journal

    $960k is peanuts for them.This worked out great. Enough to do it again once the dust settles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:31PM (#52368607)

    , you don't get to see/feel what happens when you drop the soap. It's about time these criminals did time.

    The corporation didn't make the decision to illegally perform these actions, people did. Furthermore, they were very likely to be senior fuckwits. Enough is enough. Send them to jail as if they social engineered your personal details. Multiply that jail time by the number of people they affected. The board, the primary shareholders, and the management that enforced this need to be hauled in front of judges - now!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Criminal prosecution of corporate crime won't happen anymore, so it is time to start keeping tally of who this fuckwits are and what crimes they signed off on, and when the threshold is met, make a spectacle of a few to remind them that the people can accede power, but they can also take away life when angered. The wealthy seem to have forgotten this.

  • The phone OS is delivered by a huge ad company, it has GPS, a microphone, Wifi, a compass and Bluetooth.
    What is surprising, exactly?
    Anyone using Android and expecting to not be tracked by advertisers is a dumbass.

    • Did you miss that it said "Android and iOS" in the summary? Mind you, I use and love iOS, but throwing Android under the bus as if this problem is unique to them makes no sense here.

      • Google is an advertising company.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, but this case is actively working against Google's interests and evading Apple's interests.

          Google wants to be the all-knowing oracle that gets maximum return to actual advertisers without revealing how their all-seeing-vision works. The ultimate middle-man between advertisers and advertisees (more often known as "victims"). This specific advertiser is bypassing Google's part and collecting the data themselves, which makes Google upset.

          Apple wants to be the omnipotent tyrant of the various iThingies.

          • Maybe, but the original point still stands: You're still unwise if you value privacy and prefer an Android phone.

            • by allo ( 1728082 )

              > You're still unwise if you value privacy and prefer an Android phone.
              Only android lets you choose what really to share. iOS has some basic cynogenmod-like privacy system, but android with xprivacy lets you choose every detail of data to be shared with an app or not. Apple has only it's walled garden with some nice presents, but i warn you to look inside of each of the presents.

        • What of it? I agree that there's a greater concern about being tracked if you're on Android, but it's disingenuous to hold up this issue as evidence of that concern when Google's primary competitor (which, I'll repeat again, is my preferred platform) is suffering from the issue as well. The OP was dishing on Android as if this problem was unique to that platform, meanwhile the summary clearly indicates that iOS faces the exact same problem.

          • Sorry if I wasn't clear. I wasn't trying to say that Apple is any better. Just that tracking for ad purposes should be even more obvious on Android.

        • And Apple is overpriced trash. Either way you lose... I can firewall and block a lot of shit on my Android, though.
      • Yay for Windows Phone!

    • The phone OS is delivered by a huge ad company, it has GPS, a microphone, Wifi, a compass and Bluetooth. What is surprising, exactly?

      In the latest version of Android, you have fine-grained control of access by apps. The first time such an app starts, the system will ask you if you want to allow the app to access the microphone and can deny it.

  • :D

    Sorry - Im trying to apply the music-cartel logic.

  • Okay, nice story and all, but can we go back to talking about Apple's headphones? Clearly that's a rumor everybody wants to babble about.

  • ...deceptively tracked locations of hundreds of millions of people, including children.

    Is the implication I'm meant to take from this statement that it's okay if they deceptively track the location of hundreds of millions of people as long as it excludes children?

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @04:45PM (#52369183)

    100M users tracked? $950k is insultingly low.

  • Switch to Opera Mini (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ITRambo ( 1467509 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @05:12PM (#52369429)
    TO cut down on advertising I changed my default Android browser from Chrome to Opera Mini. Now, I see that move paid off in ways that one would not expect. InMobi should be prosecuted, not just fined. Such a pussy move by the regulators.

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