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Idaho tech company suing FTC over privacy data use

An Idaho data marketing and analytics company is suing the Federal Trade Commission (chair Lina Khan pictured), alleging the agency threatened it with a lawsuit over its consumer-tracking capability, according to court documents. File Pool photo by Saul Loeb/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/ae46d6372430df583a422a91c49d82ee/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
An Idaho data marketing and analytics company is suing the Federal Trade Commission (chair Lina Khan pictured), alleging the agency threatened it with a lawsuit over its consumer-tracking capability, according to court documents. File Pool photo by Saul Loeb/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- An Idaho data marketing and analytics company is suing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, alleging the agency threatened it with a lawsuit over its consumer-tracking capability, according to court documents.

"Kochava develops a set of software tools and programs that device application ("app") developers can use to measure, track, organize, and visualize mobile app data for their marketing campaigns across marketing channels and partners," according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho Northern Division.

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The FTC had threatened to enforce an injunction against the company over its precise geolocation data. The agency argues the data can be used to track a person's precise location. The FTC argued that made it possible for third parties to use the location date to track visits to abortion clinics. It also argued users weren't properly informed of the possibility.

The agency alleges Kochava sells its time-stamped latitude and longitude coordinates, which reveal the location of a person's mobile device.

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The company denies its precise geolocation data can be used to identify people and track them to sensitive locations, including addiction recovery centers, medical facilities and women's reproductive health clinics.

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"Kochava operates consistently and proactively in compliance with all rules and laws, including those specific to privacy," the company said in a statement to Ars Technica.

"Nonetheless, Kochava has been threatened by the FTC with a lawsuit and a proposed settlement, the merits upon which are not accurate. This is a manipulative attempt by the FTC to give the appearance that it is protecting consumer privacy despite being based on completely false pretenses."

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In a general statement issued last Thursday, the FTC said the privacy matter is a major issue.

"Firms now collect personal data on individuals at a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts," FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.

"The growing digitization of our economy -- coupled with business models that can incentivize endless hoovering up of sensitive user data and a vast expansion of how this data is used -- means that potentially unlawful practices may be prevalent. Our goal today is to begin building a robust public record to inform whether the FTC should issue rules to address commercial surveillance and data security practices and what those rules should potentially look like."

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