(PM.) Senate Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, and Cory Booker and Congresswoman Sara Jacobs are concerned that mobile tracking software created by Apple and Google could be used to “hunt down women” seeking abortions.
Individuals seeking abortions and other reproductive healthcare will become particularly vulnerable to privacy harms, including through the collection and sharing of their location data, should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the group said in a June 24 letter to the Federal Trade Commission.
According to Fox Business, the Democratic lawmakers are “urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google for failing to warn consumers about the potential harms associated with advertising-specific tracking IDs in their mobile operating systems.”
Google and Apple employ tracking technology on their devices which keeps records of users’ geographic movement. The data is harvested and aggregated so individual users are are separated from it and remain anonymous. The data is then sold to third parties, often called “data brokers.”
“This is because some data brokers sell databases that explicitly link these advertising identifiers to consumers’ names, email addresses, and telephone numbers,” they wrote. “But even without buying this additional data, it is often possible to easily identify a particular consumer in a dataset of ‘anonymous’ location records by looking to see where they sleep at night.”
Google and Apple tells users they can opt out of tracking data. However, the efficacy of “opting out” is unclear when there are a multiplicity of apps that use some version of the tracking IDs.