FTC accuses data company of tracking reproductive health clinic visits - MedCity News

TFTC Sues Data Broker Kochava for allegedly selling data that tracked when people visited reproductive health clinics.

“When consumers seek health care, get counseling, or celebrate their faith, that’s personal information that shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder,” said Samuel Levin, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in news release. “FTC Takes Kochava to Court to Protect People’s Privacy and Stop the Sale of Their Sensitive Geolocation Information.”

According to the FTC complaint, Kochava collected data that showed when cellphone users visited reproductive health clinics. This data can then be traced back to single-family homes, thereby providing clues to the patient’s identity. The same type of data may also be used to identify medical professionals who perform or assist in the performance of reproductive health services.

The Idaho-based company buys geolocation data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices, according to the FTC. It then matches time-stamped latitude and longitude locations with unique mobile device IDs and packages the ID information into a custom data feed.

Kochava sells these data feeds to customers who use the data for advertising and traffic analysis in their stores and other locations.

Along with tracking visits to reproductive health clinics, Kochava also collects data on visits to addiction recovery centers, places of worship and homeless shelters. This information may reveal the whereabouts of people fleeing domestic violence or other crimes, the FTC’s press release said.

“Releasing this data could expose them to stigma, discrimination, physical abuse, emotional distress and other harms,” ​​the FTC’s statement on the threat to consumers said.

The FTC alleged that Kochava published marketing materials that touted the product’s ability to identify specific households by using geo-tracking data.

In July, the commission announced that it would cease the effort to stop the illegal sharing of health data. Although the commission did not directly state that it was related to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many lawyers expressed concerns on health privacy in light of legislation.

It’s the commission hosting a public forum on trade surveillance on September 8.

Image: David Tran, Getty Images

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