The Idaho data brokerage company, Kochava Inc., was sued by the Federal Trade Commission after it allegedly sold geolocation data from millions of mobile devices that could be used to track people to abortion clinics, addiction recovery facilities and other sensitive locations, the Wall Street Journal reports. The lawsuit filed Monday is designed to stop the company's data collection and force the company to delete all sensitive information it has already collected. In anticipation of being sued by the FTC, Kochava filed a preemptive lawsuit recently to prove that the company had made important privacy improvements that the FTC overlooked. The company claimed the FTC didn't understand that it had removed location data from its health services marketplace.
Kochava said it obtained all of its location data from third-party data brokers, all of whom maintain that the data come from consenting consumers. “The massive exploitation of consumer geolocation data, stealthily gathered by apps and mobile devices, has become a fundamental feature of the commercial surveillance system,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a group that advocates for online privacy and consumer protections. “The commission has placed online data companies on notice they risk legal action and public exposure.” The agency is supposedly targeting use of both information location and data generated by consumers’ search and other online activity, such as use of apps to test blood sugar, record sleep patterns or monitor blood pressure.