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Data Brokers

Large Companies Gather Personal Info About You that Landlords Use For References.
read the new FTC report on data brokers here
watch the News Hour interview with FTC Chairwoman Ramirez here

Data Brokers Gather Non Public and Unreliable Information to create a "profile"
  • In an article that summarizes the recent Senate report, the magazine Ars Technica concludes: “These days, our many interactions with the Internet—particularly financial ones—have resulted in an onslaught of data for these data brokers to not only collect, but to resell to interested parties.” read here  Senate committee chair comments on the Data Broker industry here
  • Data could be unreliable
  • Earlier stories here and here

LA times Data compilers' secret scores have consumers pegged --fairly or not

Consumers cannot review these scores or correct errors in the data, which are used by employers, utilities, banks and others. Consumers won access to their credit scores more than a decade ago, after advocates voiced concerns over errors and lending bias. But most people remain in the dark about hundreds of other data-collection programs still being used to size up consumers and market to them. The secret scores and data are used by employers, utilities, banks, healthcare providers, debt collectors and a host of other enterprises.

What's News?

December 21, 2017 Washington Post, Data brokers hacked

August 25, 2016 Bloomberg Business Week This Company Has Built a Profile on Every American Adult. Every move you make. Every click you take. Every game you play. Every place you stay. They’ll be watching you.

June 10, 2016  Washington Post Databroker combs your social media for landlords

Washington Post reports on a new service to "scrape" your social media accounts to create a profile for your perspective landlord. From the story: "After your would-be landlord sends you a request through the service, you’re required to grant it full access to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Instagram profiles. From there, Tenant Assured scrapes your site activity, including entire conversation threads and private messages; runs it through natural language processing and other analytic software; and finally, spits out a report that catalogues everything from your personality to your 'financial stress level.' ” 

February 5, 2015: Progress on a BIG DATA bill in DC?
Reuters is reporting that President Obama's proposals on controlling privacy on the internet are drawing some bipartisan support in the Congress.
here's the story: Exclusive: Obama Finds Bipartisan Support for First 'Big Data' Privacy Plan

January 29, 2015: Today is Data Privacy Day.
What's (not) going on in DC
Your fridge will snitch you out warns FTC

August 15, 2014: Whose data is it?
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Or) with a proposal to protect personal data on line. The Washington Post reports: "Wyden is attempting here to stuff it all into a coherent framework, even if he's not exactly sure yet what that might be. 'Applying the Founding Fathers' principles to the age of high-tech digital surveillance,' the senator argued in Portland, 'is going to require some new thinking.'" Here's the Wapo story and here's Wyden's official statement. There's more on the data broker industry here

April 27, 2014: White House “big data” study to reveal potential for discrimination Job- and loan-seekers could be unfairly targeted by "clusters" of economic data.  Next week, White House counselor John Podesta is set to present the results of a 90-day "big data" study, commissioned by President Barack Obama in January as part of a wave of NSA reform announcements. According to the Associated Press, Podesta's study will hinge largely on the discriminatory potential of the mountains of data accumulated by public and private firms alike. 

April 09, 2014 Senate Dems target credit report mistakes
Senate Democrats hope to crack down on credit reporting agencies that leave consumers on the hook for costly reporting errors. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act on Wednesday to protect consumers from inaccurate credit reports and make it easier for them to correct and dispute any mistakes. The bill would also give consumers easier access to their credit scores.

April 9, 2014 FTC hits ‘data brokers’ for bad reports, false sex offender claims.  Two background check companies have settled Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they gave bad reports to potential bosses and landlords, including false suggestions by one firm that some job candidates were registered sex offenders. The two “data brokers” were accused of breaking the law by giving consumers’ reports to some users without making sure that the information was accurate or ensuring that their users had a legal reason to obtain the background checks.  The companies, Instant Checkmate and InfoTrack information Services, were ordered to pay a combined $1.5 million fine for the infraction. However, only $585,000 of that will go through because InfoTrack is unable to pay the full $1 million it owes. “Consumers shouldn’t have to worry that they’ll be turned down for a job or an apartment because of false information in a consumer report,” said the head of the FTC’s consumer protection division, Jessica Rich, in a statement. “Data brokers that operate as consumer reporting agencies have a responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the information they sell for decisions about whether to hire someone, extend them credit, rent them an apartment, or insure them.” Read more here:

Notes & Links

Spencer Wells,
Aug 25, 2016, 8:33 AM