San Francisco, Aug 30 (IANS) The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against data broker Kochava for selling geolocation data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices that can be used to trace the movements of individuals to and from sensitive locations.
Kochava’s data can reveal people’s visits to reproductive health clinics, places of worship, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and addiction recovery facilities, the US agency said in a statement late on Monday.
The FTC alleged that by selling data tracking people, Kochava is enabling others to identify individuals and exposing them to threats of stigma, stalking, discrimination, job loss, and even physical violence.
The lawsuit seeks to halt Kochava’s sale of sensitive geolocation data and require the company to delete the sensitive geolocation information it has collected.
“Where consumers seek out health care, receive counseling, or celebrate their faith is private information that shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
“The FTC is taking Kochava to court to protect people’s privacy and halt the sale of their sensitive geolocation information,” Levine added.
In a complaint filed against Kochava, the FTC alleged that the company’s customised data feeds allow purchasers to identify and track specific mobile device users.
For example, the location of a mobile device at night is likely the user’s home address and could be combined with property records to uncover their identity.
In fact, the data broker has touted identifying households as one of the possible uses of its data in some marketing materials.
“The company’s data allows purchasers to track people at sensitive locations that could reveal information about their personal health decisions, religious beliefs, and steps they are taking to protect themselves from abusers,” said the lawsuit.
The release of this data could expose them to stigma, discrimination, physical violence, emotional distress, and other harms.