On August 29, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Kochava, an Idaho-based location data provider, alleging that Kochava sold geolocation information from "hundreds of millions of mobile devices" that might be used to track people's travels to and from sensitive sites.
The organization asserts that Kochava's data can show people's trips to places of worship, shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic abuse, and centers for addiction treatment. It asserts that doing this makes it simple to identify people, putting them at risk for various dangers like stalking, discrimination, losing their jobs, and even physical violence.
Since the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, there have been no other cases of this kind. Despite growing public concern that patients and healthcare providers could be targeted using geolocation data from smartphones.
Previously, the FTC had pledged to take action against "the murky ad tech and data broker ecosystem where corporations have a profit motive to share data at an unprecedented size and granularity.
"Where consumers seek out health care, receive counseling, or celebrate their faith is private information that shouldn't be sold to the highest bidder," Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement on Monday. "The FTC is taking Kochava to court to protect people's privacy and halt the sale of their sensitive geolocation information."
The lawsuit aims to stop Kochava from selling private geolocation data and to remove the data it has gathered.
Kochava purchases vast troves of location-based information from hundreds of millions of mobile devices. The information is packaged into customized data feeds that match unique mobile device identification numbers with time stamped latitude and longitude locations. According to Kochava, these data feeds can assist clients in advertising and analyzing foot traffic at their stores and other locations. Teh FTC has stated that, people are often unaware that their location-based data is being purchased and shared by Kochava and have no control over its sale or use.
It has come to light that Kochava was aware of the situation and, on August 12, filed a formal complaint in federal court in Idaho, claiming that the FTC was attempting to unjustly pursue legal action against the company by making "wrongful" charges regarding Kochava's data collection activities.
For data-driven marketers, Kochava, a provider of real-time data solutions, offers omni channel measurement and attribution solutions. The firm claims its Marketers Operating SystemTM provides publishers and advertisers with a platform that seamlessly manages consumer identity, measurement, and data management.
According to the agency, until at least June 2022, this data would be readily accessible to everyone, giving them unrestricted access to such sensitive information. The data sample that was looked at by the government, contained time stamped location data, which was obtained from approximately 61 million unique mobile devices, over the past week.
The complaint also describes how persons can be located and followed in sensitive venues like abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters, places of worship, and drug rehabilitation facilities.
The Idaho based company, Kochava provides secure and real-time data solutions for mobile and other connected services. Their aim is to provide companies with data that aid them in their marketing processes and help them connect with their target audience. The firm provides enterprises with a Unified Audience Platform, which comes equipped with features like onboarding services, data management, cross-device configurable solutions and many more. The company was founded in 2011 by Charles Manning.