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FTC Will "Vigorously" Enforce Existing Laws to Protect "Sensitive" Consumer Data

In the wake of the Dobbs decision reversing Roe v. Wade, regulators at the FTC have posted a blog entry listing the many privacy-related tools at the agency's disposal and promising to use them to their "full scope" to protect consumer privacy. The agency lists a number of potential harms to consumers whose health and location data are misused, and recalls recent enforcement action against app providers and others who were found to use such data in unauthorized fashion.  

Why It Matters

Any company that buys data from data brokers, collects health or body metrics data, or uses location data should carefully examine whether it needs access to all that data, whether it uses it only for the purposes identified in its privacy policy, and whether consumers have access to and control over that data. The FTC is clearly signaling that it will go after misuse of such data -- and although the immediate cause for the announcement is the Dobbs decision, there is absolutely no reason why the agency would limit enforcement to the abortion access context.  

The misuse of mobile location and health information – including reproductive health data – exposes consumers to significant harm. Criminals can use location or health data to facilitate phishing scams or commit identity theft. Stalkers and other criminals can use location or health data to inflict physical and emotional injury. The exposure of health information and medical conditions, especially data related to sexual activity or reproductive health, may subject people to discrimination, stigma, mental anguish, or other serious harms. Those are just a few of the potential injuries – harms that are exacerbated by the exploitation of information gleaned through commercial surveillance.

Tags

data security and privacy, hill_mitzi