The Federal Trade Commission is suing Idaho-based data broker company Kochava over the claims that it sold location data of millions of mobile users that could be used to track the user’s movement.
The lawsuit, filed on 30 September 2022, alleged that the data-driven company failed to provide basic protection to its users. According to reports, the company allegedly sold millions of geolocation data that could be used to track users’ physical locations, including those who visited reproductive health clinics, addiction recovery facilities, and more. FTC alleges that the data put the users at risk, exposing them to discrimination, job loss, the threat of stigma and more.
Kochava denies allegation
Kochava denied selling data of users and called the lawsuit “frivolous.” In its statements, Kochava’s spokesperson and lawyers stated that FTC was operating under a “fundamental misunderstanding” of data, marketplace, and business in the data domain.
However, the complaint filed by FTC states that the company’s customized data feeds allow the identification and tracking of specific users by the purchaser. Additionally, the FTC advocates argued that the users’ trail could be used against them in abortion prosecutions and other social matters. The federal officers also pointed out that the users were unaware that their location data was being stored and sold.
FTC analyzed parts of the stolen data and found that it could be used to track people who have visited reproductive health clinics. The data could also be used to track medical professionals who performed or assisted the patients in their treatments.
According to sources, Kochava states that it “complies with all user data privacy and consent regulations.” In its defence, the company said that it acquires the location data from other companies, including third-party data brokers who claim that the “data comes from consenting consumers” and is not stolen or harvested unethically.
However, despite Kochava’s claims, FTC is determined to protect the medical data of the general public. It is believed that any medical information about a patient should not be treated as an object being sold to the highest bidder. The company is taking Kochava to court to protect people’s data and privacy and “halt the sale of their sensitive geolocation information.”