Mobile marketers target kids, track users and threaten privacy

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privacy11.jpgADOTAS — Two consumer groups demanded today that the Federal Trade Commission launch an investigation into the mobile market, focusing especially on practices that they say compromise user privacy.

The Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group jointly petitioned the FTC and asked that the agency look into alleged mobile marketing privacy threats and inappropriate practices targeting children, adolescents, and multicultural consumers.

“Right before the commission’s eyes, many of the same consumer data collection, profiling, and behavioral targeting techniques that raise concerns in the more ‘traditional’ online world have been purposefully migrated into the mobile marketplace,” said CDD Executive Director Jeff Chester in a statement. “As our petition makes clear, mobile marketers have refined a wide range of sophisticated practices that allow them to track, analyze, and target millions of Americans who increasingly rely on their phones for information.”

The complaint, amended from earlier petitions, focuses on behavioral targeting, location-based targeting, user tracking/mobile analytics, audience segmentation, and data mining.  According to the petition, mobile marketers are building profiles of these users so they can be targeted for advertising based on their behavior and their current location.

Google, Microsoft Corp. and other advertisers might have to develop voluntary mobile-Web safeguards to avert new government rules, Rebecca Arbogast, a Washington-based analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co., told Bloomberg.

“Google is likely to take a very reasoned stance,” she said, “and probably work with the government in terms of figuring out measures they might take.”

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