EPIC, Demand Progress, EFF Applaud Proposed FTC Order with Location Data Broker, Urge Stronger Protections for Location Data

February 21, 2024

EPIC, Demand Progress, and EFF submitted comments in response to the FTC’s proposed order and settlement with X-Mode Social, a location data broker that has previously sold data to government contractors. The groups applauded the FTC’s proposed order for highlighting the sensitive nature of location data and the discrete harm of selling to government contractors for national security purposes, but urged the Commission to apply stronger, more consistent protections for location data. In particular, the groups urged the Commission to: 

  • Revise the order to remove the distinction between sensitive and non-sensitive location data or, at a minimum, to broaden the scope of location data deemed sensitive;  
  • Remove an exception to its prohibition on the use, sale, or disclosure of sensitive location that allows X-Mode to convert such data into another form and continuing using it;  
  • Rely on data minimization requirements rather than individual consent; and 
  • Ensure that consumers’ location and other sensitive information is protected consistently, regardless of where that information is collected. 

EPIC has explained the threat that commercial surveillance poses to abortion access and reproductive privacy and has called on agencies to regulate location data brokers and require data controllers to delete location information. EPIC—along with a coalition of over 100 civil society organizations—has also called for the passage of legislation to close the data broker loophole, which enables law enforcement and intelligence agencies to purchase sensitive information from data brokers, as part of any reauthorization of FISA Section 702. 

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