HomeWinBuzzer NewsGlobal Actions Spark Against Surveillance Capitalism Aiming to Safeguard User Privacy

Global Actions Spark Against Surveillance Capitalism Aiming to Safeguard User Privacy

US and Europe crack down on how data brokers categorize sensitive information. Even without names or addresses, data can reveal personal details.


The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has underscored the necessity for data brokers to reconsider their approach towards categorizing sensitive information. This directive comes on the heels of enforcement measures taken against Avast, a well-known antivirus vendor, alongside location data providers X-Mode and InMarket. Highlighting that, regardless of the absence of traditionally defined personally identifiable information (PII) within the companies' data collections, the sensitive nature of the data resides in what can be deduced from it.

International Movement Towards Privacy Protection

In parallel, Europe is also intensifying efforts to safeguard privacy. Just last week, the Open Rights Group initiated legal complaints against LiveRamp in the UK and France. These cases aim to scrutinize LiveRamp's marketing practices for potential breaches of GDPR and UK-specific data protection laws. The organization targets what it describes as “pervasive identity ”, an act that goes against the principles of personal privacy upheld by European . Furthermore, advancements have been observed globally, emphasizing the need for greater transparency and ethical handling of data by corporations involved in digital advertising and consumer tracking.

The Fine Line between Anonymity and Identification

The cases against , X-Mode, and InMarket reflect a growing awareness of how ostensibly non-sensitive data can indeed reveal much about an individual when properly analyzed. This shift recognizes that , even those lacking direct PII, can be re-identified with increasing ease thanks to technological advances, making the argument for classifying browsing and location data as sensitive more potent than ever. 

Further complicating matters, traditional methods of anonymization have proven insufficient in protecting . The persistent identifiers, such as device IDs and cookies, employed by companies to track online behavior can, in fact, be more revealing than a person's name in certain contexts. As a consequence, there is growing pressure on the ad tech industry to rethink their strategies and ensure is handled with the utmost respect for privacy.

In light of these developments, the conversation around what constitutes personal information continues to evolve. It underscores the vital role regulators and legal frameworks play in keeping pace with innovation, ensuring that the rapid growth of digital technologies does not come at the expense of individual privacy rights.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.