Data Brokers

WPF Comments about Privacy and Big Data: Ethical Framework and Rights Essential

The World Privacy Forum filed comments with the U.S. Department of Commerce in response to its Request for Comments about big data, privacy, and the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. The White House Big Data report recognized that Big Data “raises considerable questions about how our framework for privacy protection applies in a big data ecosystem” and has the potential to “eclipse longstanding civil rights protections in how personal information is used in housing, credit, employment, health, education, and the marketplace.” This is among our concerns as well, and our comments focused on understanding big data’s benefits while drawing attention to where there are significant privacy risks that need to be addressed.

FTC’s Data Broker Report Brings New Facts to Light about how Consumer Data is Captured and Sold

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 WPF Reports Cited in White House Big Data Report; WPF supportive of report findings

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.

The Scoring of America: Op Ed for IAPP & FTC Alternate Scoring Conference

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.

WPF’s data broker testimony results in new Congressional letters to data brokers about vulnerability-based marketing

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