Written by Sean Lyngaas
A group of 10 U.S. lawmakers on Friday asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate companies that sell Americans’ personal data by exploiting online advertising, calling for any lawbreaking firms to be shut down.
The lawmakers, including Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., decried the data-selling practices as an “outrageous privacy violation,” citing reports that Mobilewalla, a data broker, compiled data from Black Lives Matter protestors for marketing purposes. The broader market for consumers’ personal data is lucrative, and includes a bidding process for online ads that include code for gobbling up information on users’ locations and personal devices.
The lawmakers want the FTC to use its investigative power to determine if data brokers have broken a federal law that prohibits “unfair and deceptive” business practices. An FTC spokesperson declined to comment.
“[T]here is no effective way to control these tools absent intervention by regulators and Congress,” the lawmakers wrote to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. “Technological roadblocks, such as browser privacy settings and ad blockers, are routinely circumvented by advertising companies.”
Other signatories of the