A report by The Wall Street Journal shows that four Democratic lawmakers want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Apple and Google due to collecting and selling their users’ personal information.
According to the publication, the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FTC chair Lina Kahn that Apple and Google “knowingly facilitated these harmful practices by building advertising-specific tracking IDs into their mobile operating systems.”
That said, The Wall Street Journal also highlights that both companies have made improvements to limit the collection of user data. Apple, for example, has taken several different approaches with Sign in with Apple, App Tracking Transparency, and even Privacy Report.
But for Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, Cory Booker, and Rep. Sara Jacobs, Apple and Google could make it harder to track users by their online information.
“Until recently, however, Apple enabled this tracking ID by default and required consumers to dig through confusing phone settings to turn it off. Google still enables this tracking identifier by default, and until recently did not even provide consumers with an opt-out,” said the letter, which was signed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.); Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.); and Rep. Sara Jacobs (D., Calif.). “These identifiers have fueled the unregulated data broker market by creating a single piece of information linked to a device that data brokers and their customers can use to link to other data about consumers.”
“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,” they wrote.
The Wall Street Journal says that Apple didn’t provide a statement. The publication also gives some context to Khan’s leadership in the Federal Trade Commission, reporting that since she took over FTC a year ago, the agency “has been looking to strengthen the rules that govern how digital businesses collect user data.”
Apple has been an important voice on privacy over these past few years, but it doesn’t make the company bullet-proof from controversies with allegations of monopoly or even not doing enough to guarantee users’ data safety across the web.
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