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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FTC sues data broker for unfair sale of sensitive data

Federal Issues Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security FTC Enforcement Data Brokers FTC Act UDAP Unfair

Federal Issues

On August 29, the FTC announced an action taken against a data broker accused of allegedly selling precise geolocation data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices that can be used to trace individuals’ movements to and from sensitive locations. According to the complaint, the defendant purchases location information from other data brokers and packages it into customized data feeds that match unique mobile device advertising identification numbers with timestamped latitude and longitude locations. These data feeds allow purchasers to identify and track specific mobile device users with no restrictions on usage and puts consumers at significant risk, the FTC claimed, noting that by failing to adequately protect its data from public exposure, consumers may be identified and face substantial injury. Moreover, people are often unaware that their location data is being purchased and shared by the defendant and have no control over its sale or use, the FTC said in its announcement. The complaint alleges the defendant’s unfair sale of sensitive data violates the FTC Act, and seeks a permanent injunction and any additional relief deemed just and proper.