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USA: FTC publishes blog on collection of consumer automotive data

On May 14, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a blog on the unlawful collection and use of cars and consumer data. In particular, the FTC highlighted that connected vehicles collect sensitive data, including biometric and location information.

The FTC outlined that geolocation data is considered sensitive and subject to enhanced protection under the Federal Trade Commission Act (the FTC Act), noting that location data may be used to track people's visits to sensitive locations including medical or reproductive health clinics, places of worship, or domestic abuse shelters. The FTC reminded that InMarket was found to have used sensitive location data for advertising purposes in violation of the FTC Act.

Likewise, the FTC clarified that the secret disclosure of sensitive information can be an unfair practice under the FTC Act and that companies that have legitimate access to consumers' sensitive information must ensure the data is used only for the purpose it was collected. The FTC detailed the settlements made against BetterHelp for the disclosure of consumer data for advertising purposes.

Finally, the FTC provided that the use of sensitive data for automated decisions may also be unlawful. The FTC cited the action taken against Rite Aid for the use of facial recognition technology without sufficient controls to prevent low-quality images from being used, resulting in false positive match alerts.

You can read the press release here.