Forget worrying about loyalty cards or programs: it’s the everyday purchases you make tied to your name with a debit or credit card that can land you on data brokers’ lists. That is one of the many facts that the new FTC report on data brokers sets forth. The report offers a high-level analysis with establishing new fact patterns about the industry based on the Commission’s investigation of nine major data brokers. Overall, we find things to like in the report, but we wish the FTC had gone further in some areas. Here are some of the high points that stood out to us.
Two key recent reports published by the World Privacy Forum, The Scoring of America and Data Brokers and the Federal Government, were cited in the White House’s new report on Big Data. WPF is supportive of the report. “We are pleased that the White House report has correctly recognized critically important issues that impact individuals’ privacy in the area of big data. We commend the report for clearly recognizing that information originally intended for marketing purposes can also be used to impact individuals’ marketplace opportunities in substantive ways that impact peoples’ daily lives, and that creating meaningful protections is important,” said WPF executive director Pam Dixon.
This op ed was originally published Wednesday, March 19 2014 in IAPP for the FTC Alternate Scoring Conference.
In our modern sea of data, the resources to examine all relevant information regarding a decision is no longer feasible, so we use shortcuts. Consumer scores built using predictive analytics and fed by large datasets are the modern-day shortcuts to understanding individual consumer behavior. That’s why new and unregulated consumer scores abound. They are used widely in today’s world to predict consumers’ behavior, spending, health, fraud, profitability, and much more. These scores rely on petabytes of information coming from newly available data streams, and some old ones.
February 3, 2014 Washington, D.C. — Senator Rockefeller sent six hard-hitting and precedent-setting letters to data brokers today. This was the Senator’s direct follow-up to the information WPF Executive Director Pam Dixon revealed in her December 2013 data broker testimony at the Senate Commerce Committee, which Sen. Rockefeller chairs. Rockefeller, in his release, said: “I
Video of Congressional Testimony on data brokers. Pam Dixon gave this testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee on December 18, 2013 at a hearing dedicated to shedding light on data broker industry practices and how that affects consumers. The full testimony contains numerous examples of data broker activities, consumer scoring, and discusses the solutions that are needed, including a requirement for data broker opt out.