- Congressional lawmakers urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google and Apple regarding abortion seekers’ data.
- Data brokers have already sold the location information of those who sought abortions, the lawmakers said.
- Anti-abortion laws will incentivize individuals to hunt down abortion seekers, the senators told the FTC.
Four Democratic lawmakers on Friday urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google’s mobile tacking practices regarding abortion seekers.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Sara Jacobs of California wrote a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan — accusing Apple and Google of collecting and selling “Hundreds of millions of mobile phone users’ data.”
The lawmakers argued that for individuals seeking abortion services in states where abortion would be illegal it is essential that their data won’t fall into the wrong hands.
This letter comes as the nation grapples with the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v Wade on Friday, making the legality of abortion is now a state matter. Many states have already enacted trigger laws banning abortion.
The letter expresses concerns over the “unregulated data broker market” and the fears that state bounty laws, such as the law in Texas, will incentivize individuals to track down those seeking an abortion through location information obtained from a suspicious data broker.
“The FTC should investigate Apple and Google’s role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance that incentivizes and facilitates the unrestrained collection and constant sale of Americans’ data,” the senators wrote.
The letter noted that Apple and Google designed their mobile operating system to include “unique tracking identifiers.” These “identifiers” contain information about mobile users’ movement and browsing activity that can be purchased or acquired from app developers and online advertisers.
“Data brokers are already selling, licensing, and sharing the location information of people that visit abortion providers to anyone with a credit card. Prosecutors in states where abortion becomes illegal will soon be able to obtain warrants for location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider,” the lawmakers wrote.
Representatives for Apple and Google did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.