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FTC Jumps In To Prevent Analytics Company From Selling Geo-Location Data Belonging To Millions

The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly jumped in to put an end to a controversial matter that has been a huge concern for a while now.

The FTC has filed a lawsuit against an analytics firm to stop it from selling users’ location data including details like where they’re living and if they can be traced to abortion clinics.

These accusations have been hurled at a company based in Idaho that goes by the name Kochava. According to statistics obtained by the FTC, it’s been involved in illegal behavior for a while now, taking help from data brokers.

Using some assistance from social media apps too, Kochava has sold off the information for reasons that it outlines to be analytics and marketing.

As far as 125 million users data were taken whose status was active on a monthly basis. Moreover, they were seen charging thousands each month to gain access. The type of data even comprised exact longitude and latitude coordinates pertaining to users’ smartphones. Similarly, there was even mention of their IP addresses as well.

To help provide protection to such users, the company was seen stripping out the identities of such users while assigning a particular advertising identification along the way.

In addition to that, the FTC was caught detailing how data could be compiled easily using other types of information taken from third parties that would delineate any user’s identity.

For instance, users’ mobile location devices could combine with various property records to help give a better idea of their identity.

Additionally, the same data could be taken to expose other types of sensitive information like the locations visited. There was special emphasis on abortion clinics, domestic violence areas, and places people go to for worship.

There is more striking evidence on Amazon’s marketplace where stats show how some data had been offered free of cost via free samples over a seven period of time. And on average, one day would entail 62 million devices.

It’s interesting to note that the firm put zero to minimal safeguards into play to prevent threat actors from getting access to the same data. All that was needed was for users to fill out forms.

In the lawsuit, the FTC boldly declares how any purchaser would pop up and utilize personal email IDs to describe their use as simply conducting business. The request would be forwarded for approval and they’ve managed to say yes to requests in less than 24 hours.

To help stop the firm from carrying on with the practice, the FTC says the lawsuit was the only option forward. Selling users’ data for the purpose of tracing them down is wrong and identifies different people. It also puts them at risk for exposure to things like stigma, discrimination, violence, and stalking too.

As of now, we’re still waiting for a request to come forward from Kochava’s side. And while we wait, it’s quite clear what this lawsuit is suggesting. The FTC wants the practice to end and has even asked the US Supreme Court to intervene as a part of the crackdown.


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