What Is A Mobile Marketing ID
Kochava is not a household name, but it’s a part of the daily modern household. Kochava is a major data broker that sells the geolocations of “hundreds of millions” of mobile devices. This data can be sensitive, such as a visit to a reproductive health clinic, addiction center, domestic violence shelters, or psychiatric help centers. It can infer if an individual is LGBTQ+ or track if someone is undergoing chemotherapy. This type of data can also show the frequency of visits to any location. A therapist’s office or cancer treatment wing or both. This type of data is can also be interpreted to know when an individual stops going somewhere, for example, a decrease in visits to a pharmacy may infer fewer medications, or if someone stopped picking up birth control. In a post-Roe world, the brokering of data gathered from period tracking apps can have broad repercussions that the House Oversight Committee is currently investigating. The type of data Kochava collects and sells is highly specific.
Geolocation services can identify an exact location and is often used by retailers to track foot traffic. Theoretically, in a bigger location like a Walmart, it can tell you which areas a customer spends more time in. Somebody's weekly visits to a gym can be sold to health insurance companies to infer someone’s activity levels. Every phone has a Mobile Marketing ID tracker in it, and the customer can reset it but one would have to know that it exists and how to reset it on their phone. Last year the FTC prosecuted a fertility tracking app, FLO for it’s selling of data to third parties. There was no financial penalty put on FLO but it was the first crackdown on brokering of health data.
*Learn How to Reset Your Mobile Marketing ID
The data Kochava brokers is not anonymized, however even encrypted data is really easy to un-encrypt once it’s in the hands of the third party. Kochava is based in Idaho. According to TechCrunch, on Kochava's own site, Kochava offers its clients, “raw latitude/longitude data with volumes around 94 billion+ geo transactions per month, 125 million monthly active users, and 35 million daily active users, on average observing more than 90 daily transactions per device.” It sells its data feeds on a subscription basis on publicly accessible sites, including on the AWS Marketplace up until June 2022. To access the feed, a purchaser would need a free AWS account and $25,000 for the Kochava location data feed subscription.” In response to the FTC, Kochava stated, “Real progress to improve data privacy for consumers will not be reached through flamboyant press releases and frivolous litigation. It’s disappointing that the agency continues to circumvent the lawmaking process and perpetuate misinformation surrounding data privacy.”