Judge tosses FTC lawsuit accusing broker of unfair geolocation data sales

(Reuters) – A federal judge in Idaho on Thursday dismissed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against Kochava Inc alleging that the data broker unfairly sold geolocation data but gave the regulator an opportunity to revise its case.

In a 35-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill granted a motion the Idaho-based company filed in October by ruling the FTC complaint lacks sufficient allegations to state a claim. The FTC failed to allege Kochava’s data sales created “significant risk” of concrete harm, order said, allowing the trade regulator 30 days to amend its arguments.

Interest rose in the case after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling nearly a year ago. The move ended women’s constitutional right to abortion, leaving the matter for states to decide the legality of the procedure within their borders.

The FTC sued Kochava in August for selling geolocation data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices that could be used to track consumers. The consumer data, the suit alleged, could be used to trace people’s movements to and from sensitive locations, such as reproductive health clinics, places of worship and addiction recovery facilities, among other places.

The lawsuit sought to stop Kochava from selling sensitive geolocation data and require it to delete related information it has collected.

The technology industry has fretted police or other entities could invade customers’ privacy by accessing search history, geolocation and other information.

(Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York City; Editing by David Gregorio)