This past Friday, four Democratic senators from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, and California together wrote a letter to Lina Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, accusing Apple and Google of unethically collecting and selling “hundreds of millions of mobile phone users’ data”. For each of the companies’ mobile operating systems, iOS and Android respectively, there is a built-in anonymous string of numbers and letters called “mobile-ad identifiers”, which can easily be traced back to the individuals with the phone.
The letter comes immediately as the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on the same day, leaving the legality of abortion to the states. The letter expresses concerns over an “unregulated data broker market” and fears that state bounty laws would incentivize individuals to track down abortion seekers through suspiciously obtained location and payment information.
According to the lawmakers, “prosecutors in states where abortion becomes illegal will soon be able to obtain warrants for location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider”. The letter also urges FTC to investigate “Apple and Google’s role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance that incentivizes and facilitates the unrestrained collection and constant sale of American’s personal data”.
The following sources were used for this article:
- Lawmakers Want FTC to Investigate Apple, Google Over Mobile Tracking, The Wall Street Journal
Democratic lawmakers urge FTC to investigate Apple and Google over mobile tracking data practices targeting abortion seekers, Business Insider