This Affects Everyone! On August 29th, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against data broker Kochava Inc. for selling geolocation data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices that can be used to trace the movements of individuals to and from sensitive locations.
Read The FTC Lawsuit At ftc.gov
An FTC Blog Entry Explaining A Bit More
The method by which this is done utilizes the phone's Advertising ID which is configured for every android and iphone mobile device. Each and every app on one's phone has access to this Advertising ID. Camera apps, Gallery apps, Texting apps, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Maps, and more have access. Any app can wake up, read the phone's current location data, and then transmit this geolocation data along with the Advertising ID back to a central data store.
When this location data is correlated to data sets containing personally identifiable information (name, address, etc.) cross referenced with the Advertising ID, one can quickly see how personal tracking can be implemented. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is particularly worried about medical tracking. A citizen is guaranteed the right to medical privacy under the 14th amendment of the constitution. See healthcare.uslegal.com for more. If a data company is aggregating and selling this data to others, this could trigger constitutional violations.
Hacker News has a good article on this lawsuit.
Now since the Advertising ID is the source of all this nightmare, it might be a good idea to delete it. To see how to delete your advertising id, reference the Electronic Frontier Foundation's article listed below.
To see which apps have access to your location data, see the following for both Android and IPhones.
See Which Android Phone Apps Have Access To Location Data (howtogeek.com).
See Which Apple IPhone Apps Have Access To Location Data (howtogeek.com)
Concluding, the FTC is very engaged on the issue of tracking and a person's right to privacy. It's an ongoing issue and as technology matures, so too will the need to keep on top of it all. Good luck.
Paul F. Sirpenski
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