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FTC Sues Data Giant Kochava Over Sale Of People’s Location Data

 |  September 5, 2022

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it has filed a lawsuit against data broker Kochava Inc. for selling geolocation data from “hundreds of millions of mobile devices,” it says, which could be used to trace the movements of individuals including those to and from sensitive locations.

Specifically, the FTC said the data could reveal people’s visits to places like reproductive health clinics, domestic violence or homeless shelters, addiction recovery centers and places of worship.

This personal and private information could expose people to “threats of stigma, stalking, discrimination, job loss, and even physical violence,” the FTC explained in a press release.

The suit aims to halt Kochava’s data collection practices involving sensitive geolocation data and will request that the company delete the data it has already collected.

Its arrival additionally signals the FTC is cracking down on mobile data brokers whose businesses rely on collecting and reselling data from consumers’ smartphones — a longtime industry practice that has numerous privacy implications but is one often unknown to the end users who are impacted. The move also follows a significant rethinking of tracking by Apple, which updated its mobile operating system to allow consumers to opt out of some data collection practices on a per-app basis.