FTC Bans Second Company From Selling Sensitive Location Data

Data broker InMarket Media has agreed to refrain from selling information that could reveal whether people visited sensitive locations, in order to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency said Thursday.

The company will also refrain from collecting any location data -- sensitive or otherwise -- without consumers' explicit consent, the FTC said.

Earlier this month, the FTC announced it reached a similar settlement with Outlogic.

The FTC alleged in its complaint against InMarket that the company collects location data from apps that people install on their phones, and then cross-references records of consumers' locations with “advertising-related points of interest” for ad-targeting purposes.

InMarket allegedly created almost 2,000 advertising audience segments, according to the FTC.



“An InMarket brand client can target shoppers who are likely to be low-income millennials; well-off suburban moms; parents of preschoolers, high-school students, or kids who are home-schooled; Christian church goers; convenience-sensitive or price- sensitive; single parents or empty-nesters; affluent savers or blue collar workers; 'healthy and wealthy' or 'wealthy and not healthy,'” the agency's complaint alleges.

InMarket also allegedly sends push notifications to consumers based on their locations.

“For example, a consumer who is within 200 meters of a pharmacy might see an ad for toothpaste, cold medicine, or some other product sold at that location,” the complaint alleges.

The agency also says in its complaint that consumers who consented to the collection of their location data did so based on misleading information.

“The consent screens ... tell consumers that their location will be used for the app’s functionality (earning points and keeping lists), which are misleading half-truths,” the FTC alleges.

The consent screens didn't inform consumers that InMarket collected precise location data that, combined with other information, was used to create ad-targeting profiles, according to the FTC.

“Although InMarket discloses in its privacy policy that it uses consumer data for targeted advertising, its consent screen does not link to the privacy policy language, and the misleading prompts do not inform consumers of the apps’ data collection and use practices,” the agency alleged.

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