Consumers Battle Kochava Over Location Privacy

Smartphone users who sued mobile data broker Kochava are pressing a judge to allow them to proceed with claims that the company wrongly sold sensitive geolocation data.

In papers filed late last week with U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, attorneys for the consumers says the “disclosure of private information” is the type of harm that warrants a lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs have suffered an injury-in-fact because their privacy rights were violated,” counsel writes.

The papers come in response to Kochava's request that Winmill dismiss the lawsuit on several grounds, including that the consumers weren't injured by the alleged practices, and therefore lack “standing” to sue in federal court.

The dispute began earlier this year, when consumers in California and Washington state alleged in a class-action complaint in Idaho that Kochava sells people's precise geolocation data along with their mobile ad identifiers (typically alphanumeric strings).

That combined data “may be used to track consumers to sensitive locations, including places of religious worship, places that may be used to infer an LGBTQ+ identification, domestic abuse shelters,medical facilities, and welfare and homeless shelters,” the consumers alleged in April.

Their complaint includes claims that Kochava violated consumer protection laws in California and Washington.

Kochava has said in other court filings that the data it allegedly provides to third parties isn't personally identifiable, and that location data doesn't in itself reveal the reasons why someone visited a particular address.

For instance, Kochava wrote, someone who goes to a medical establishment could be “visiting another business in the same building, visiting a doctor’s office as a sales representative or vendor, a delivery person, or multitude of reasons.”

Kochava also faces class-action complaints in California and Massachusetts.

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