Kochava Urges Judge In Massachusetts To Throw Out Privacy Class-Action

Mobile data broker Kochava is asking a federal judge to throw out a class-action complaint brought in Massachusetts over claims that the company discloses smartphone users' locations.

In papers filed late last week, Kochava, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, argues that the case shouldn't proceed for several reasons -- including that the company lacks “significant” connections to Massachusetts, and that the user who sued can't establish she was harmed by the alleged geolocation tracking.

Kochava “does not have continuous and systematic contacts in Massachusetts,” the company writes in papers filed with U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani in Boston.

Kochava adds that it doesn't have a corporate mailing address in Massachusetts, and that it doesn't currently have any personnel in the state, and that only five of its 170 employees previously worked in Massachusetts.

The data broker also says that Julie Maattala, who filed the complaint, “has not suffered any injury, much less one that occurred in Massachusetts or caused by Kochava by conduct committed or directed here.”

Maattala does not allege “that unknown third parties tracked her to sensitive locations,” the company writes.

Kochava's argument comes in response to a lawsuit initially brought by Maattala in September, and revised last month. She alleges that the company obtains and sells precise location data that originates with mobile apps, in violation of a Massachusetts consumer protection law that prohibits unfair or deceptive business practices.

Maattala's lawsuit, like a separate class-action complaint brought against Kochava in California, came soon after the Federal Trade Commission sued the company for allegedly selling consumers' precise location data.

The FTC specifically alleged in its complaint that Kochava sells “timestamped latitude and longitude coordinates showing the location of mobile devices,” as well as mobile advertising IDs -- unique identifiers that persist, unless consumers reset them. While the mobile advertising identifiers are pseudonymous, the FTC alleged that they can reveal people's actual identities. For example, the FTC said, some data brokers say they can match mobile identifiers with names and physical addresses.

Kochava -- which is separately fighting the FTC's case and the California lawsuit -- has repeatedly argued its latitude and longitude coordinates don't in themselves identify anyone.

The company reiterates that contention in the papers it filed late last week in Boston.

“Kochava’s collection of raw latitude/longitude data is not egregious or extreme conduct; latitude/longitude coordinates are data points which, without more, do not uniquely identify end users,” the company writes.

Kochava also argues that its data comes from app developers who only obtain the geoinformation if consumers consent to share it.

“Plaintiff incurred a benefit for allowing access to her geo data,” Kochava writes. “Plaintiff received a benefit because she enjoyed the use of the mobile application in exchange for her consent.”

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