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Apple, Google To Ban Data Broker From Collecting Phone Location Information: WSJ

Apple, Google To Ban Data Broker From Collecting Phone Location Information: WSJ

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) have decided to ban data broker X-Mode Social Inc from collecting location information from iOS or Android devices, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What Happened: X-Mode Social is a data broker that collects location data from devices using a software development kit, or SDK, embedded in developer’s apps. The company sells data commercially to investors and corporate clients to guide planning and decision making. 

Apple and Alphabet decided to boot X-Mode out of their app stores after discovering that the broker is selling data to companies working with the federal agencies, U.S. government contractors for national security, counterterrorism, and pandemic response, WSJ reports.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D—Ore.) is investigating the sale of location data to government entities, which is used for surveillance and law enforcement. Wyden is in the process of drafting legislation to ban the practice, WSJ notes.

Why It Matters: Apple and Alphabet dominate the mobile operating space. Google has given developers seven days to remove X-Mode from apps or face a ban from the Play Store, while Apple has given developers two weeks to comply or face a ban from the App store. 

Data broking is a billion-dollar industry that is used for target advertising and understanding consumer behavior. X-Mode said that it is unfairly singled out.

“A ban on X-Mode’s SDK would have broader ecosystem implications considering X-Mode collects similar mobile app data as most advertising SDKs, and Apple and Google would be setting the precedent that they can determine private enterprises’ ability to collect and use mobile app data,” the company said in a statement, as per WSJ. 

Developers have told X-Mode they will ask Apple to reconsider the decision but Wyden said Apple and Google deserve credit for doing the right thing.

“Americans are sick of learning about apps selling their location information and other sensitive data to anyone with a checkbook, including to the government,” Wyden told WSJ.


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