Friday, October 12, 2012

Senate Investigating Data Brokers

The New York Times reports that Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W. Va., has launched an investigation into the businesses practices of data brokers, with the Senate Commerce Committee (which he chairs) sending notices (presumably requesting testimony) to nine of the major brokerage firms in the database marketing business: Acxiom, Experian, Equifax, Transunion, Epsilon, Reed Elsevier (Lexis-Nexis), Datalogix, Rapleaf and Spokeo.

The investigation will examine the practices of these brokerage firms and the impact they have on consumers. “Because consumers are now able to conduct nearly all of their daily business online, an unprecedented amount of personal, medical, and financial information about them can be mined, collected, and sold,” Rockefeller states in the letter to the brokers. “Because your industry has monetized consumer data, it is critical that we understand what information companies like yours are already collecting and selling.”

The Times reports that "Linda A. Woolley, the acting chief executive of the Direct Marketing Association, a trade group, called the senator’s investigation 'a baseless fishing expedition... I hope Senator Rockefeller understands what he’s tampering with.'"

I don't think that in and of itself the investigation is problematic. A little daylight here would be beneficial, in my opinion.

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