Update: In response to the news, SafeGraph has announced that it will now stop selling data related to visits to abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood, and other similar institutions.
“Removing pattern data for locations classified as NAICS Code 621410 (” Family Planning Center “) from the self-service” Shop “and API, given the potential for federal government changes in access to family planning. , Reduces potential misuse of data, “says Auren Hoffman, CEO of SafeGraph. Blog post..
The original story below:
When the debate over the right to abortion in the United States reached a flash point again, companies were found selling data on people visiting abortion clinics.
Motherboard SafeGraph, which sells data for all uses, including demographic analysis, advertising, and real estate, sells a pack of data that shows where a group of visitors came from and how long they stayed at a facility such as the Planned Parenthood Clinic. I found that. As well as where they went after the trials.
The report also states that by analyzing where mobile devices spent the night, it is possible to estimate where tracked individuals live to the census subdivision level.
Motherboard He purchased some of the data to verify its authenticity and states that in mid-April, data from more than 600 Planned Parenthood locations in the United States were purchased for just over $ 160.
SafeGraph works by selling software development kits (SDKs) to developers, who push them to various mobile apps such as prayer apps, weather forecast apps, and QR codes. Users of your app are often unaware that third parties are collecting and selling this data.
These apps collect user data, including location data. SafeGraph can then sell it to a third party. MotherboardIn the past, there were various US military contractors among the buyers.
However, SafeGraph does not sell data about individual users or illegal data (passwords, etc.) itself, but rather aggregates the data and focuses on moving the group. However, Vice states that the risk of anonymization is very real in some sections of the “very few devices per record” data.
According to the report, “4 or 5 devices are visiting” in some places. In addition, personal identification becomes a real threat when mobile operating systems allow filtering.
SafeGraph was banned from the Google Play store last June.
“It’s dangerous to have an abortion clinic and have someone buy a census truck that people are coming to to visit the abortion clinic,” said cybersecurity researcher Zack Edwards. Motherboard After checking the data. “This is a way to abort people who are traveling across state borders for an abortion. It is a way to abort a clinic that offers this service.”
After the news came out, SafeGraph published a blog post stating that this type of data would no longer be sold.
“Removing pattern data for locations classified as NAICS Code 621410 (” Family Planning Center “) from the self-service” Shop “and API, given the potential for federal changes in access to family planning. , Reduces potential data misuse, “writes Auren Hoffman, CEO of SafeGraph.