Defend free speech and individual liberty online. 

Push back against Big Tech and media gatekeepers.

House Democrats call on FTC and FCC to regulate secret data selling

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

A large group of House Democrats has penned a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking these agencies to regulate more strictly and penalize collection and monetization of location data.

Over 40 members of the US House of Representatives are concerned by user location data harvested by apps, and here, the FTC and FCC chairs are asked to come up with new rules that would declare selling, buying, transferring or using such data an unfair act or practice. At the same time app developers would be branded as engaging in a deceptive practice if they mislabeled location data as anonymous.

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

This type of “mislabeling” lulls users into a false sense of security, the letter says, because they are poorly informed how this information can be co-related and de-anonymized.

But the Democrats – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamie Raskin and Katie Porter among them – want the two agencies to allow for an exception to these proposed new rules – user location data could be handled in said ways if the purpose was essential for the way the app works.

The letter, endorsed by a number of organizations, at the same time praises the FTC and the FCC for what they are doing now to protect user privacy and safety, but believes more needs to be done in a preventive way.

The letter cites a study from FTC’s site that says app makers are currently able to harvest location data and device identifiers and profit by selling them, even if users deny permission.

Once again, a claim is made that this practice doesn’t affect everybody’s privacy and safety the same way, as the Democrats write that marginalized groups like women who have been subjected to domestic violence “may face higher stakes” from personal data harvesting and sharing behavior built into some apps.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

Read more

Join the pushback against online censorship, cancel culture, and surveillance.

Already a member? Login.