July 31, 2020

Cassidy, Wyden, Bicameral Coalition Request FTC Investigate Advertisers Tracking Americans at Places of Worship and Protests

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) led a bipartisan group of 10 members today calling for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the online ad economy, particularly the tracking of Americans at places of worship and protests and then selling that information to advertisers, hedge funds and the government. 

Cassidy, Wyden and other members asked the FTC to investigate how personal data, including location information, collected from Americans’ phones to deliver advertisements is being siphoned off by data brokers and sold without the knowledge or consent of users.

“Americans never agreed to be tracked and have their sensitive information sold to anyone with a checkbook,” the members wrote.

In addition to Cassidy and Wyden , the letter is signed by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)., and Edward Markey (D-MA). U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)., Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) signed as well.

The members expressed particular concern about the practice of tracking Americans at places of worship and protests, as at least one data broker, Mobilewalla, publicly admitted doing.

“This outrageous privacy violation must be stopped and the companies that are trafficking in Americans’ illicitly obtained private data should be shut down. Accordingly, we urge the FTC to use its authority to conduct broad industry probes under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act to determine whether adtech companies and their data broker partners have violated federal laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive business practices,” the members wrote.

Read the full letter here.