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Kochava sues FTC over allegations of leaking personal health data on abortion clinic visits

Yahoo Finance legal reporter Alexis Keenan details how Walmart is expanding abortion coverage for its employees, while a new lawsuit shows how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) might defend health data after being sued by Kochava.

Video transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: All right, Walmart is telling employees it will expand abortion and travel coverage according to reports. This comes as a new lawsuit reveals how the Federal Trade Commission is at odds with a mobile data collection company over the issue of tracking users who visit health care locations. Alexis Keenan has this story. Alexis, what are we learning?

ALEXIS KEENAN: So this company, it's an ad tech company. And it's based in Idaho. It's called Kochava. And it's actually suing the FTC and asking for an injunction to stop the FTC's request for an injunction. So this company is in the business of mobile app data. They collect it. And they give it to their customers, app developers, who then can use it for marketing purposes. They have customers like McDonald's, CVS, 7-Eleven that use the technology.

So in this lawsuit, the company is saying that the FTC has characterized its geolocation data as capable of really identifying mobile users. They say that the data can track visits to sensitive locations, like health care providers. And that's a concern in the wake of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v Wade.

But the company says something very different. They say that the data that they compile, that it doesn't allow for this kind of tracking and that specific individuals can't be tied to a specific location. So they characterize it as saying that the FTC is really bullying in the company, claiming that they're violating the law and that they're asking for this settlement.

In an email to Yahoo Finance, Kochava said that the company "operates consistently and proactively in compliance with all rules and laws." "The FTC's hope," it says, "was to get a small, bootstrapped company to agree to a settlement. They say that "the effect of that would be setting precedent across the adtech industry" and that using that, such precedent, would then usurp, really, the established way of setting laws through Congress.

Though "The Washington Post" also reported that, on Thursday, the company said it was working on a privacy block that's what they called it to block this kind of health care data. And we don't know though, whether they'll block it all the way through their customers or exactly how that will work. But certainly, a concern about these digital trails becoming a problem in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade.

Already, we were just reporting last week on a case in Nebraska where a subpoena for Facebook Messenger data tracked to a mother and a daughter who were then criminally prosecuted for abortion and other related crimes. So definitely a concern. A lot more to talk about here. But for now, the company is saying that this is the FTC really bullying it.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, an important story to keep our eye on in the months and years ahead. Alexis Keenan, thanks so much. Have a great weekend.