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Big Brother No More: FTC Cracks Down on InMarket for Selling Users’ Precise Location Data

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In a significant victory for consumer privacy, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has banned data aggregator InMarket from selling or licensing precise location data collected from millions of Americans without their informed consent. This landmark decision sends a clear message to the data-hungry industry: profiting from people’s privacy without their knowledge and choice will not be tolerated.

A Trail of Tracking:

InMarket operated by collecting location data from various sources, including its own apps and third-party apps embedded with its software development kit (SDK). This data, often accurate down to within feet, painted an alarmingly detailed picture of users’ movements, revealing sensitive information like their homes, workplaces, and frequent haunts. InMarket then sold this valuable data to businesses for targeted advertising and other purposes, all without explicitly informing users about how their data was being collected and monetized.

Crossing the Line:

The FTC’s investigation revealed multiple concerns with InMarket’s practices:

  • Misleading Consent: The company’s consent prompts were deemed vague and confusing, failing to adequately inform users about the extent of data collection and its intended use.
  • Hidden Tracking: InMarket often embedded its SDK in third-party apps without prominently disclosing its presence, leaving users unaware that their location was being tracked.
  • Selling Sensitive Data: The precise nature of the location data collected raised concerns about potential stalking, discrimination, and other privacy violations.

Banishing Big Brother:

The FTC’s order against InMarket imposes a comprehensive set of restrictions, including:

  • Ban on Selling Location Data: InMarket is prohibited from selling or licensing any precise location data to third parties.
  • Deletion of Existing Data: The company must delete all previously collected location data.
  • Transparency and Choice: InMarket is required to clearly and upfront inform users about its data collection practices and obtain their explicit consent before tracking them.

Beyond InMarket:

The FTC’s action against InMarket is not an isolated incident. It reflects a growing awareness of the risks associated with the rampant collection and monetization of personal data. With increasing geolocation capabilities and a booming data broker industry, protecting user privacy has become a critical imperative.

Next Steps for a Secure Future:

The InMarket case highlights the need for:

  • Stronger Data Privacy Laws: Comprehensive legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the proposed federal AI Bill of Rights provide essential frameworks for protecting consumer data.
  • User Awareness and Education: Empowering individuals to understand their privacy rights and make informed choices about their data is crucial.
  • Responsible Data Governance: Businesses must collect and use data ethically, with transparency and respect for user privacy.

A Brighter Digital Horizon:

The FTC’s decision against InMarket is a significant step towards a more secure and privacy-centric digital future. By holding data-hungry corporations accountable and advocating for stronger protections, we can ensure that technology serves humanity, not exploits it. Let this be a turning point in the fight for online privacy, where individuals regain control over their digital footprints and Big Brother remains firmly banished from our devices and lives.

Remember, your data is your own. Be informed, be vigilant, and demand respect for your privacy in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Ouaissou DEMBELE
Ouaissou DEMBELEhttps://cybercory.com
Ouaissou DEMBELE is an accomplished cybersecurity professional and the Editor-In-Chief of cybercory.com. He has over 10 years of experience in the field, with a particular focus on Ethical Hacking, Data Security & GRC. Currently, Ouaissou serves as the Co-founder & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Saintynet, a leading provider of IT solutions and services. In this role, he is responsible for managing the company's cybersecurity strategy, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and identifying and mitigating potential threats, as well as helping the company customers for better & long term cybersecurity strategy. Prior to his work at Saintynet, Ouaissou held various positions in the IT industry, including as a consultant. He has also served as a speaker and trainer at industry conferences and events, sharing his expertise and insights with fellow professionals. Ouaissou holds a number of certifications in cybersecurity, including the Cisco Certified Network Professional - Security (CCNP Security) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), ITIL. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, Ouaissou is a valuable member of the cybercory team and a trusted advisor to clients seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture.

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