While the tech giants now allow consumers to opt out of having their devices tracked this way, the lawmakers wrote, and Apple no longer enables it by default, the FTC should determine whether the companies at the outset sufficiently disclosed the potential risks to consumers of having the device identifiers active. Apple and Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.
“Apple and Google enabled governments and private actors to exploit advertising tracking systems for their own surveillance and exposed hundreds of millions of Americans to serious privacy harms,” wrote the group, which included Sens. Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Rep. Sara Jacobs.
“Data brokers are already selling, licensing, and sharing the location information of people that visit abortion providers to anyone with a credit card. Prosecutors in states where abortion becomes illegal will soon be able to obtain warrants for location information about anyone who has visited an abortion provider,” the lawmakers wrote. “Private actors will also be incentivized by state bounty laws to hunt down women who have obtained or are seeking an abortion by accessing location information through shady data brokers. The FTC should investigate Apple and Google’s role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance that incentivizes and facilitates the unrestrained collection and constant sale of Americans’ personal data.”
The tech giants’ practices, the lawmakers said, should be investigated as potentially unfair and deceptive practices that could be prosecuted under the FTC Act. The FTC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.