Media Relations

FTC Takes Action Against Notorious Data Broker Amid National Outcry for Privacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a first-ever settlement with a data broker barring its sale of location data that is so precise it “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.” Data brokers are notorious for selling surveillance of Americans, but X-Mode/Outlogic gained particular notoriety after it was caught selling location information to the US military that had been scraped out of apps, including a prayer app with about 100 million downloads.

Significantly, the FTC’s complaint against the data broker specifically alleged deception regarding X-Mode’s “fail[ure] to inform consumers that it would be selling data to government contractors for national security purposes.”

Polling released mid-December by Demand Progress Education Fund and FreedomWorks shows 80% of Americans agree that the government should need a warrant before purchasing data from data brokers.

In response to the announcement from the FTC, Demand Progress Education Fund Policy Director Sean Vitka issued the following statement:

“The FTC just took a significant step toward stemming data brokers’ erosion of Americans’ Constitutional right to privacy. This not only holds one notorious data broker accountable, it also raises the standard to which the United States holds data brokers generally and puts the FTC on the side of the vast majority of Americans. Amid the roiling national debate over warrantless government surveillance, it’s heartening to know that the FTC stands with the 4-in-5 Americans, who simply do not want government agencies buying our sensitive location information without warrants.”

This development comes amid an ongoing, months-long national debate over warrantless surveillance, with the House Judiciary Committee twice passing legislation to prohibit warrantless data broker sales to government agencies on overwhelming, bipartisan bases. Congress is expected to vote on warrantless surveillance practices by April 19 due to the scheduled expiration of a controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority known as Section 702.