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FTC Secures Historic Settlement on Location Data Tracking

 |  January 9, 2024

Virginia-based data broker, Outlogic, formerly known as X-Mode Social, has reached a significant settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), marking the agency’s first-ever data tracking settlement. In an accord announced on Tuesday, Outlogic committed to ceasing the sale of sensitive location data used to track individuals’ whereabouts.

The settlement addresses allegations that Outlogic violated consumers’ privacy over several years by selling their data without consent to advertisers, researchers, retailers, and government contractors. The FTC revealed that until May of last year, Outlogic lacked policies to exclude sensitive locations such as doctor’s offices, domestic abuse shelters, reproductive health clinics, places of worship, and others from the raw data it sold.

As part of the agreement, Outlogic, which boasts itself as the second-largest U.S. location data company, will not only stop selling sensitive location data but will also undertake the deletion of all illegally collected data of this nature. Furthermore, the company has committed to refraining from disclosing such data unless explicit consent is obtained from consumers, according to the FTC.

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FTC Chair Lina Khan emphasized the potential harms associated with the unrestricted sale of location data, stating, “Openly selling a person’s location data to the highest bidder can expose people to harassment, stigma, discrimination, or even physical violence.” Khan called for protections against what she described as “unchecked corporate surveillance,” asserting that Americans deserve safeguarding from such practices.

Outlogic’s data collection methods involve its own apps, software integrated into third-party apps, and purchases from data aggregators, according to the FTC. The resolution of this case underscores the FTC’s commitment to addressing privacy concerns in the era of widespread data brokerage and surveillance, setting a precedent for holding companies accountable for unauthorized data practices.

Source: Reuters