Last week, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to deal with misleading practices in the Virtual Private Network (VPN) industry. Eshoo and Wyden’s letter comes as individuals look to cover their digital footprint following the Supreme Court’s choice to overturn Roe v. Wade.
A VPN permits a consumer to set up an encrypted connection between their system and a non-public server, making it more durable for third events to entry their on-line exercise. With abortion changing into unlawful or restricted in a number of states, extra individuals are wanting to conceal their messages and search historical past, as police can use this info to prosecute somebody looking for the process.
In their letter, Eshoo and Wyden ask the FTC to clamp down on VPN suppliers that have interaction in misleading promoting, or make false assertions about the vary of their service’s privateness. The lawmakers cite analysis from Consumer Reports that point out 75 % of the hottest VPNs “misrepresented their products” or made deceptive claims that would give “abortion-seekers a false sense of security.” Eshoo and Wyden additionally name consideration to reviews accusing numerous VPN providers of misusing consumer knowledge, in addition to “a lack of practical tools or independent research to audit VPN providers’ security claims.”
“With abortion illegal or soon to be illegal in 13 states and severely restricted in many more, these abusive and exploitative data practices are simply unacceptable,” the letter reads. “We urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take immediate action… to curtail abusive and deceptive data practices in companies providing VPN services to protect internet users seeking abortions.” Eshoo and Wyden additionally ask that the FTC develop a brochure that informs anybody looking for an abortion about on-line privateness, in addition to outlines the dangers and advantages of utilizing a VPN.
Earlier this month, the FTC reaffirmed that it’ll take motion towards corporations that illegally share well being, location, and different delicate knowledge, whereas President Joe Biden signed an govt order to shield affected person privateness. Other entities have additionally taken motion in gentle of the Supreme Court’s ruling, with Google promising to auto-delete location knowledge related to visits to abortion clinics.