US business regulator FTC has filed a lawsuit against data broker Kochava for selling location data.
According to the Federal Trace Commission, Kochava has sold location data from millions of mobile devices. That data could lead to user identification and reveal sensitive information such as religion or health status. Kochava, for his part, says it’s abiding by the rules and calls the lawsuit “frivolous.”
The FTC says it fears, among other things, that this data provides information about people who have an abortion, but also about which churches they visit and any health clinics and even shelters and shelters for victims of domestic violence. The commission bases its lawsuit on a public sample of the data Kochava sells.
The data broker says it adheres to the rules regarding data privacy and consent. Earlier this month, Kochava introduced a “Privacy Block” feature that removes health centers from its data. The company also tells British broadcaster BBC that it’s location data comes from third parties, who “each collect their data from consumers who consent to it.”
Privacy, and especially location data, has been a sensitive issue in the United States for some time but has received extra attention in recent months due to the tightening of the abortion law in the country. Certain states now prohibit abortion (which has been legal since the 1970s). As a result, women in need often have to travel to other states where it is still allowed, and the fear is that location data will be used to prosecute them.