US senators ask the FTC to investigate Apple and Google over mobile tracking | TechBuzz

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US senators ask the FTC to investigate Apple and Google. In the line of sight, mobile tracking.

A group of Democratic senators are asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Apple and Google regarding their collection of mobile user data. In a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, Senators Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory A. Booker and Sara Jacobs accuse the two giants of “unfair and deceptive practices by allowing the collection and sale of the personal data of hundreds of millions of mobile users.” He added that companies “facilitate these harmful practices by embedding specific advertising identifiers into their operating systems.”

US senators ask the FTC to investigate Apple and Google

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The senators mention in particular the vulnerability in which users find themselves if their data, and particularly their location data, are collected and shared. This letter was written just before the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, making abortion illegal immediately in states with trigger laws. They explained that data brokers already sell the location data of users visiting abortion centers. The senators explain how this information can now be used by private citizens encouraged by “bounty hunter” laws targeting individuals seeking abortions.

Android and Google were designed with tracking IDs for advertising. Although these IDs are supposed to be anonymous, according to the senators, data brokers sell databases linking these IDs to usernames, emails and phone numbers. Apple released an iOS update last year implementing stricter rules for using this advertising ID. In particular, apps must request explicit permission before retrieving this identifier.

Google, for its part, activates this tracking identifier by default. The Mountain View company has however introduced features to make tracking through apps more difficult and has recently committed to refining its Privacy Sandbox on Android, “with the aim of introducing new, more private advertising solutions”. Google also told Ars Technica: “Google never sells user data and Google Play strictly prohibits the sale of user data by developers…Any claims that the advertising ID was created to facilitate data sales are simply false.”

In the line of sight, mobile tracking

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Despite the solutions introduced by the two giants, the senators say they have already caused harm. They are therefore now calling on the FTC to investigate the roles Apple and Google have played in “transforming online advertising into a massive surveillance system that rewards and facilitates the unrestrained collection and constant sale of personal data.” Americans.”

Ron Wyden and 41 other Democratic lawmakers also urged Google last month to stop collecting and storing location data that could be used against people who have sought or are seeking abortions. More recently, another group of lawmakers led by Senator Mark Warner and Representative Elissa Slotkin asked the giant to “stop manipulating search results” that offer links to anti-abortion centers to those who are precisely looking for information on abortion.

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