There’s a “request for investigation” pending at the FTC that some of our readers might have missed. The April 12 complaint, filed by Georgetown Law professor Laura Moy on behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, urges the FTC to conduct a wide-ranging investigation of the location data industry.
The complaint focuses in particular on alleged abuses harming the Muslim community, including the government’s purchase of location data from popular Muslim prayer apps to conduct “warrantless surveillance” on Muslim individuals. According to the complaint, these practices have led to a “sense of constant surveillance” that has chilled Muslims’ practice of religion, freedom of assembly, and use of technology to communicate. The allegations have broader implications, too, as they describe the “unfettered” and “surreptitious” data collection across many contexts by multiple industry actors, including the operating systems, app and SDK developers, data brokers, and participants in digital advertising’s real time bidding (RTB) process.
As I write this blogpost, the complaint does not appear to have been posted on the FTC’s website. Although the FTC seeks public comment on petitions for rulemaking, this complaint may not fall within that process since it chiefly seeks investigations, citing rulemaking as a “longer term” goal. (Of course, stakeholders may want to consider providing input to the FTC anyway to assist in its consideration of the issues.)
Continue Reading Complaint Urges FTC to Investigate the Location Data Industry