Senate Dems Shout Apple, Google Mobile Tracking, Warns of Abortion-Related Data Protection Risks

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, Cory Booker and Sara Jacobs are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google for failing to warn consumers about potential harms associated with ad-specific tracking IDs in their mobile operating systems.

“These identifiers have driven the unregulated data broker market by creating a single piece of information related to a device that data brokers and their customers can use to connect to other consumer data,”[ads1]; lawmakers wrote in a letter Friday. “This data is purchased or obtained from app developers and web advertisers, and may include consumer traffic and web browsing activity.”

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While consumers may opt out of tracking, they argue that Apple and Google have “enabled governments and private actors to exploit advertising tracking systems for their own surveillance and exposed hundreds of millions of Americans to serious privacy breaches.”

“The FTC should examine the role of Apple and Google in transforming online advertising into an intense monitoring system that stimulates and facilitates the unrestricted collection and constant sale of Americans’ personal data,” the letter continues. “These companies have failed to inform consumers about the privacy and security hazards associated with using these products. It is over time to put an end to the privacy harms imposed on consumers by these companies.”


The letter places particular emphasis on the potential vulnerability of individuals seeking abortion and other reproductive health care following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Data brokers already sell, license and share location information to people who visit abortion providers to anyone who has a credit card,” lawmakers say. Prosecutors in states where abortion becomes illegal will soon be able to obtain order confirmations for location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider. data brokers. “

A Google spokesman told FOX Business that the company “never sells user data” and that Google Play strictly prohibits the sale of user data by developers.

“The Ad ID was created to give users more control and give developers a more private way to effectively monetize their apps,” the technology giant added. “All claims that ad ID was created to facilitate data sales are simply false,”

In addition to the ability to delete the Advertising ID at any time, Google has rolled out the Privacy Sandbox on Android to restrict data sharing with third parties. An Apple spokesperson did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital privacy rights group, advises Internet users concerned about their abortion-related data to carefully review the privacy settings of the services they use, turn off location services on apps that do not need them, and use encrypted messaging services.

“Everyone deserves to have strong control over the collection and use of information they necessarily leave behind when performing their usual activities, such as using apps, search engine search, posting on social media, sending text messages to friends and so on,” EFF Director Cindy Cohn and legal director Corynne McSherry said in a statement. “But those who apply, offer or facilitate abortion access must now assume that all data they provide online or offline can be applied for by law enforcement.”

It also suggests that businesses should protect users by allowing anonymous access, stopping behavioral tracking, strengthening data deletion policies, providing end-to-end encryption and during transit encryption, preventing location tracking and ensuring that users are notified when their data is accessed searched.

In addition, the organization encourages state and federal decision-makers to pass meaningful privacy laws.


At least 13 states in the country have so-called “trigger laws” bans most abortions that will take effect immediately or within weeks of Roe v. Wade being overthrown.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group on abortion rights, these states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, which just passed the trigger. law in April.

There are also five other states – Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin – that still have an abortion ban on the books from before Roe v. Wade that will come into force now that the 1973 Landmark Act is being repealed.

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report

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