Federal Trade Commission investigates data brokers


In December 2012, the US Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into data brokers' privacy practices, requesting information from nine companies: Acxiom, Corelogic, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, Peekyou, Rapleaf, and Recorded Future. The FTC sought information about: the nature and sources of the consumer information the data brokers collect; how they use, maintain, and disseminate the information; and the extent to which the data brokers allow consumers to access and correct their information or to opt out of having their personal information sold. The FTC noted that because data brokers typically compile their databases from public records and information purchased from other companies, consumers are rarely aware of their existence or the purposes for which they collect and use this data. The resulting report, issued in May 2014, found that the data brokers' dozens of segmented categories included such specific items as "buyers of novelty Elvis items" and "Bible Lifestyle". The FTC found no evidence of illegal activity in the industry, but also found a "fundamental lack of transparency"; the agency was also concerned about the collection of data relating to health issues, such as the categories for people who looked for medical information online or preferred brand-name drugs. The FTC proposed legislation to help Americans learn about the data that has been collected about them, correct errors, and opt out. The FTC also found that seven of the nine companies from which it sought information share data with one another.



tags:  Acxiom, Corelogic, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, Peekyou, Rapleaf, Recorded Future, data brokers, FTC, regulatory actions, credit scoring

Writer: FTC; Craig Timberg

Publication: FTC; Washington Post

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