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FTC Takes Aim at Data Giants: Avast, X-Mode, and InMarket Face Regulatory Crackdown

 |  March 13, 2024

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched enforcement actions against three major data aggregators: Avast, X-Mode, and InMarket. The proposed settlements come in response to allegations of widespread mishandling and exploitation of consumers’ personal data, highlighting growing concerns surrounding the collection and monetization of browsing and location information.

Avast, known for its security software, has come under scrutiny for allegedly deceiving consumers about the protection of their browsing data. The FTC’s proposed settlement addresses accusations that Avast profited from selling detailed browsing information collected through its antivirus software and browser extensions, despite assuring users of privacy safeguards. This data, according to the FTC, was sold in a manner that could potentially identify individual users, directly contradicting Avast’s claims of anonymity.

Similarly, X-Mode Social and InMarket, two prominent data aggregators, face allegations of unlawfully collecting and exploiting consumers’ location data. The FTC’s proposed settlements with these companies stem from claims that they obtained precise location information from consumers’ mobile devices without proper consent or disclosure. X-Mode is accused of selling this data to private government contractors without user consent, while InMarket allegedly categorized consumers into specific audience segments based on their location data, which was then sold to advertisers.

The seriousness of these allegations is underscored by the sensitive nature of the data involved. Browsing and location information can unveil intimate details about individuals, including their religious beliefs, health conditions, financial status, and more. The FTC’s proposed complaint against Avast provides a glimpse into the extensive breadth of data collected, including visits to websites discussing medical conditions, political announcements, job searches, financial applications, and adult content.

Source: FTC Gov