Google+AdMob=Mobile Privacy Issues for the FTC. Questions should be raised about mobile targeting via “ethnicity”

The Federal Trade Commission should examine the privacy issues connected to the Google/AdMob deal.  As we informed the FTC yesterday, AdMob says it can target via “age, gender, HHI, ethnicity, education & context.”

The CDD/USPIRG complaint on mobile advertising provides useful analysis. Here’s an excerpt on its discussion about AdMob:

AdMob: “Mining All the Data We’ve Captured”
AdMob is a “mobile advertising network” seeking to “target mobile users and monetize mobile traffic.” There is inadequate notice and little opportunity to opt-out of this data- gathering. Few mobile users realize that their communications and actions are monitored and recorded in order to create intimate profiles for marketing purposes.
AdMob also targets the youth demographic. It segments “market audiences” into several categories, including a “Digital Natives” category, which include boys and girls as young as 13.  AdMob also focuses on social networking sites, claiming it “enables developers to monetize Facebook mobile applications by integrating AdMob’s industry-leading mobile publishing solutions into any Facebook mobile application. Developers building mobile web applications for the Facebook community using the Facebook Platform for Mobile can easily integrate the AdMob code to start serving ads….”

And AdMob is continually seeking to mine and monetize the data gathered on unsuspecting youths and other mobile users. AdMob’s CEO Omar Hamoui admitted, “We are investing a fair amount of development resources into mining all the data we’ve captured over the last 12 months of ad serving and targeting.”

AdMob gathers this data (and targets youths) without adequate notice to the consumer, making it difficult for a mobile user to weigh the costs and benefits and choose whether to opt out of this profiling. This constitutes unfair and deceptive practices, and the Federal Trade Commission should scrutinize these actions.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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