FTC Makes History After Barring US Data Broker Firm Outlogic From Selling User Location Data

In what is being called a historic moment in the history of the FTC, the agency has banned top American data broker company Outlogic from selling location data of citizens.

The company which was once known as X-Mode Social mentioned through a press release how selling and sharing such material ended up violating the user’s privacy rights and that’s beyond acceptable, it added.

Seeing how the company was engaged in selling citizens’ exact location data was an eye-opener. This was being done for the sake of tracking users and their specific locations in sensitive areas. Common examples included medical clinics and reproductive facilities. Meanwhile, it also highlighted how worship places and shelters housing domestic abuse victims were also included.

Such data was used for the sake of exposing their identities and that could lead to discriminatory behavior, severe distress on an emotional level, and also physical harm, amongst so many others.

Such geolocation information could reveal where people live and who they end up spending time with along the way. Throughout this whole time, they were uninformed about the act and continued to be exposed to this constant threat.

Seeing the FTC finally take action against such behavior is a clear understanding of how it was a long time coming. The agency added in its justification for the act that no one should be allowed, especially businesses to freely promote and sell the location data of American citizens.

By securing a ban on the selling and use of such location data, the FTC vows to carry out important tasks linked to keeping Americans protected at all times from such intrusive firms whose behavior has been going unchecked for so long.

For nearly one of the contracts, the agency raised eyebrows after highlighting how shockingly the firm sold data of users visiting pharmacies and certain medical facilities in the region of Ohio. And if that was not enough, the data was purchased by a private based clinical research firm.

The raw information is linked to mobile ad IDs that are very unique and commonly linked to every mobile device out there today.

The location data is very raw and not anonymized or capable of matching any user’s mobile phone in terms of which location they ended up visiting. In fact, several firms offer services that assist organizations in matching users’ data on their apps.

The agency also added how the firm failed to follow any kind of safeguard designed to give the right type of protection to Android users who opted out of tracking and receiving ads.

Now, the American Congress is being called in to act on the matter. Therefore, under the settlement, the company must delete and remove any data pertaining to the user's location as it was unlawful to collect that in the first place.

This news is breaking as it’s the first time that we’ve seen such bans arise from the FTC in terms of misusing users’ location data. But is that enough? Advocates for privacy are calling for swifter and stricter action as they feel a lot more must be done.

The owner of the firm is actually the state’s senator Ron Wyden. He discovered the firm in 2020 and then went on to name it X-Mode Social. He even sold some data of users’ locations to contractors based in the US military. But with time, many tech giants like Google as well as iPhone maker Apple banned the software from being sold through its respective App Stores.

So what is his stance on this front? He’s very happy that action is being taken justly by the FTC against the illegal behavior as sensitive data of users does not belong in anyone else’s hands.

Photo: Digital Information World - AIgen

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