The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has taken a historic step by banning the data broker X-Mode Social from sharing or selling users’ sensitive location data. This decision comes as a part of a first-of-its-kind settlement that aims to protect consumers’ privacy and security.
The FTC has banned X-Mode from sharing or selling sensitive location data and ordered the firm to delete all previously collected data, marking a significant step in protecting consumers’ privacy and security.
X-Mode’s Misuse of Location Data
The FTC’s settlement prohibits X-Mode, now known as Outlogic, from sharing and selling users’ sensitive information to others. Moreover, the data broker is required to delete or destroy all the location data it previously collected, unless consumer consent is obtained or the data is de-identified.
The FTC alleged that X-Mode sold precise location data that could be used to track people’s visits to sensitive locations, such as medical and reproductive health clinics, places of religious worship, and domestic abuse shelters. The regulator also claimed that the data broker failed to remove the sensitive locations from the raw location data it sold to third parties and did not implement “reasonable or appropriate safeguards” against downstream use of this precise location data.
Implications of the FTC’s Action
FTC Chair Lina M. Khan emphasized the significance of the action against X-Mode, stating that businesses do not have the freedom to market and sell Americans’ sensitive location data. The FTC’s order also mandates X-Mode to implement procedures to protect the privacy of consumers’ personal information and ensure that recipients of its location data do not associate the data with sensitive locations.
Response from X-Mode/Outlogic
A statement from Outlogic, representing X-Mode, expressed disagreement with the implications of the FTC’s press release. The statement emphasized that since its inception, X-Mode has imposed strict contractual terms on all data customers, prohibiting them from associating its data with sensitive locations such as healthcare facilities. The company stated that adherence to the FTC’s newly introduced policy will be ensured by implementing additional technical processes and will not require any significant changes to business or products.