Users' Web Browsing Data Is A Highly Sensitive Matter, FTC Rules

The FTC has finally ruled how sensitive a matter users’ web browsing data is.

The news is said to be a breakthrough in terms of the huge number of companies that have been making use of such personal data for years, without attaining consent so they could benefit.

But that won’t be possible any longer as the FTC detailed how information like this, even when stripped of finer details like social security numbers, names, and more still poses a serious threat of being misused online.

Such browsing data and location details are so sensitive that a huge number of privacy complaints have been arising around the globe including those against Avast. The latter was accused of selling users’ data as were two other leading location data brokers including InMarket Media and even Outlogic.

There has been extensive research such as this being carried out over the years that proved how such datasets entail sensitive details and data that identifies a user personally. This is even when it doesn’t entail any classic elements.

The FTC added how such data is very sensitive in nature because of the huge amount of insights they happen to be giving and how those can be linked to certain individuals in the community.

Avast made use of algorithms to get rid of names and data that couldn’t be identified personally from those who embarked on the browsing experience. Avast was making use of algorithms to get rid of certain names so it was easier to sell off and gain profits from, another report highlighted by the FTC mentioned.

Now this news comes at a time when we see the FTC speak about whether or not it should roll out more privacy rules that limit online ads and other kinds of tools that come under the commercial surveillance category.

The FTC is yet to generate more rules in this regard that specifically delineate what is and isn’t allowed but we see that coming up soon.

But the chairman of the FTC just made the effort to tell the world that such online practices of collecting users’ sensitive data are not allowed for obvious reasons.

They feel that whether stringent rules are in place or not, the activity is a very unfair practice in the world of business and needs to be penalized, if and when done.

This is a stark warning to the tech world from the FTC in terms of how it wishes companies to steer clear of the activity and attain consent before collecting piles of data and selling them off to cross-site platforms to promote more online advertising.

More details from the report reflected how search questions and emails as well as posts on social media were similarly sensitive as were titles of certain books and movies seen online.

Hence, any kind of rule requiring firms to attain stringent consent before getting or selling such browsing information would be a part of the latest privacy laws in different states.

Critics agree with the FTC but they’ve been discussing the matter for quite some time now. It is certainly shocking how all of this has taken place and how it’s a massive departure from what actual privacy laws should appear like.

The latest laws in this regard have detailed more about how many businesses now need to give users the chance to opt out of the practice of collecting data online for the sake of ad targeting.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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