On July 11, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published “Location, health, and other sensitive information: FTC committed to fully enforcing the law against illegal use and sharing of highly sensitive data,” on its Business Blog. The blog post is likely related to an Executive Order (the “EO”) signed by President Biden in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Among other things, the EO directed the FTC to consider taking steps to protect consumers’ privacy when seeking information about and related to the provision of reproductive health care services.
While this latest drumbeat on this issue came from the FTC, we expect to see attention to this issue by other regulators, including, perhaps, the Department of Justice as well as state attorneys general.
Although the FTC post centers on location data and reproductive health services, it is likely that there will be more scrutiny of the collection and use of location data in general. This renewed focus will potentially subject a wide group of digital ecosystem participants to increased attention. The spotlight will likely fall on interactive platforms, app publishers, software development kit (SDK) developers, data brokers and data analytics firms – over practices concerning the collection, sharing and perceived misuse of data generally.