Four Democratic lawmakers are reported to have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google over creating identifiers and tracking malicious ads on their platforms.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Four Democratic lawmakers have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple Inc. AAPL 2.27% ▲ and GOOG 4.16% to Alphabet Inc ▲ Google, alleging that the companies engage in unfair and deceptive practices by enabling the collection and sale of mobile phone users’ personal information.
The lawmakers wrote in a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan on Friday that Apple and Google “intentionally facilitated these harmful practices by creating ad-specific tracking identifiers in their mobile operating systems.”
While Apple IDFA tracking is limited with the transparency of app tracking in iOS 14, lawmakers noted that prior to this Apple had enabled tracking by default, burying the option under Confusing Phone Settings if they wanted to turn it off.
The letter says that such identifiers “fueled the unregulated data broker market by creating a single piece of information associated with a device that data brokers and their customers can use to associate with other data about consumers” and that although these identifiers are technically anonymous, they can easily be associated with individual users. They claim that “it is often possible to easily identify a particular consumer in a data set of ‘anonymous’ location records.”
The letter says that individuals who seek abortions are at particular risk of harm to privacy in the wake of the Roe v. Wade case that claims that “prosecutors in states where abortion is made illegal will soon be able to obtain warrants with location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider.” .”
The letter says that both Apple and Google should be investigated for their role “in transforming online advertising into an extensive monitoring system that incentivizes and facilitates the unrestricted collection and continued sale of personal data to Americans”.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.