“U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., revealed today that an anti-abortion political group used mobile phone location data to send targeted misinformation to people who visited any of 600 reproductive health clinics in 48 states. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission, Wyden urged the government to act quickly to protect the privacy of patients, and to hold the data broker accountable for misleading statements about its actions. As a result of the Dobbs decision, which reversed Roe v. Wade and allowed states to criminalize abortion, privacy of location data has become increasingly important. Wyden began investigating a data broker named Near Intelligence in 2023, after the Wall Street Journal reported that an anti-abortion organization named The Veritas Society used cell phone location data shared with online advertising companies to target misinformation about reproductive health to people who visited Planned Parenthood locations in Wisconsin.
In response to questions from Sen. Wyden’s office, an official at the advertising agency used by The Veritas Society said the campaign actually targeted people who visited 600 Planned Parenthood locations, in 48 U.S. states. An official for Near also confirmed that the data broker also provided Americans’ location data to a defense contractor, which the Journal previously revealed was providing location data to the Defense Department and U.S. intelligence agencies…”