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FTC: Congress should rein in data brokers

Grant Gross | May 28, 2014
Data brokers should give consumers more control over their personal information, and Congress should consider legislation that reins in the ways data brokers can use that information, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is recommending.

The FTC report is a "powerful and disturbing privacy wake-up call," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a consumer privacy advocate. "The report reveals the largely invisible Big Data-driven complex that regularly spies on every American, comprehensively following our activities both online and off."

Unlike a big data report, issued by the White House earlier this month, the FTC study "provides a much more realistic — and chilling — analysis of an out-of-control digital data collection industry," Chester said by email.

But the FTC's calls for greater transparency and consumer control are insufficient, without additional legislation, he added. "The real problem is that data brokers — including Google and Facebook — have embraced a business model designed to collect and use everything about us and our friends — 24/7," he said.

The FTC voted in December 2012 to compel nine data brokers to disclose information that was included in the study. The nine data brokers in the study are Acxiom, CoreLogic, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, PeekYou, Rapleaf and Recorded Future.

 

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