Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Warren proposes a sweeping ban on the sale of location and health data

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As the expected Supreme Court decision is overturned Roe v. Wade looms over Washington, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has announced sweeping legislation prohibit the sale of location and health data.

Warren’s Health and Location Protection Act – co-sponsored by a number of Democratic senators, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) – would “prohibit data brokers from selling or transferring location data and health data.” There are few restrictions, making the bill one of the most firm proposals to regulate the sale of data.

“Data brokers take advantage of the location data of millions of people and pose serious risks to Americans everywhere by selling their most personal information,” Warren said in a statement Wednesday. “With this extremist Supreme Court poised to overthrow Roe v. Wade and states seeking to criminalize essential health care, it is more important than ever for Congress to protect consumers’ sensitive data.”

If passed, the bill would empower the Federal Trade Commission, the state’s attorneys general and people injured in an illegal data sale to sue brokers who have broken the law. The FTC would also receive an additional $1 billion over the next decade to help enforce the law. The only exceptions to the bill apply to specific activities protected by HIPAA or the First Amendment, according to the text of the bill.

Motherboard was the first to report on Warren’s bill on Wednesday, after weeks of reporting detailing how companies are selling the location data of smartphone users who have visited abortion clinics. In May, Motherboard reported that a location data company, Placer.ai, allowed users to create “heatmaps” of where visitors to abortion clinics live.

“If abortion is illegal, researching reproductive health care online, a period-tracking app, or bringing a phone to a doctor’s office can all be used to track down and prosecute women in the US. uterine monitoring,” Wyden said in a statement. Wednesday statement. Congress must protect Americans’ privacy from abuse by far-right politicians who want to control the bodies of women.

Last month, Warren signed on a letterled by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), asking FTC Chair Lina Khan to explain how the Consumer Protection Agency is investigating possible abuses of location tracking and what resources it may need to better protect consumers.

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