The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against data broker Cochua for allegedly selling sensitive geolocation data.
Commission charged, i Complaint It filed today, alleging that Kuchva sold precise location data that revealed sensitive information about customers, including “medical care, reproductive health, religious worship, mental health, temporary shelters, such as the homeless.” shelters for, visits to survivors of domestic violence, or other at-risk populations, and addiction recovery.
Allegations about reproductive health care data have been particularly prominent since the US Supreme Court’s decision. Dobbs The decision, which reversed decades of precedent. Roe v. Wade And allowed More than a dozen states. Criminalize abortion.
After data privacy Dobbs
Public health advocates opposing the bans have urged people to be careful about their digital footprints if they’re seeking an abortion in a state where it’s illegal.
Experts said that if someone is concerned that their digital data could be subpoenaed and used against them, they should not only delete period tracking applications, but Also be careful with your text messages and geolocation data. The New York Times in July. (Settled with FTC. Fertility App Flow Health (July 2021 for unauthorized sharing of users’ health information with Facebook and Google.)
While Kochua’s lawsuit isn’t just about abortion—and touches on other important ways that personal data can be misused—the FTC is signaling renewed interest in protecting Americans’ reproductive health data. Is. The bipartisan commission voted four to one — with the lone vote against Republican Commissioner Noah J. Phillips — to prosecute Kuchava in federal court in Idaho, where the company is headquartered.
Kochua did not respond to a request for comment, but Initially sued the FTC Last week, it called its investigation a “manipulative attempt” to pretend it was protecting consumers’ privacy despite being based on entirely false pretenses.
“Consumer privacy is not just an abstract issue”
recently Press conferenceFTC consumer protection chief Sam Levine said, “Some of the debate surrounding the recent Dobbs The decision only underscores what many have been saying for a long time: consumer privacy is not just an abstract issue.
Julian Dellinger, professor of privacy law and ethics at Duke University School of Law, said Dobbs And the new abortion bans that followed “highlighted the substantial risks that data brokers, and their collection and sale of health and location data, pose to women and providers, particularly those of forced childbirth.” in the States.”
He noted that law enforcement agencies have received Buy personal data from brokers.a process that the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit advocacy group, called “an end run around laws like the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).”
“The fact that law enforcement actually buys data from data brokers that it would need a warrant to obtain underscores the urgent need for protections for that data in light of the criminalization of abortion,” Dellinger said. also highlights.”