Press Release: We Support a Centralized Data Broker Opt Out

March 26, 2012

San Diego, California —

The World Privacy Forum strongly supports the idea of a centralized opt-out site for data brokers. “A centralized data broker opt out would ideally function like a Do Not Call list for consumers,” said Pam Dixon. “The idea is that consumers can readily find the data brokers, and have an easy way to opt out. Right now, it is difficult at best to accomplish these tasks.”

WPF has been active on the issue of data brokers because of the reports of consumer harms and challenges resulting from data broker interactions and impacts. In 2009, WPF filed a petition to the FTC regarding mail-in data broker opt outs, which complained that consumers’ information was being put online electronically, but the data brokers were requiring postal-mailed paper opt outs. The WPF complaint  resulted in an FTC action and improvements for consumers.

WPF, in 2011 comments to the FTC, urged the FTC to create a centralized place for consumers to opt-out of data broker tracking.

We specifically asked the FTC for the following two items:

  • That the FTC compile a list of all FCRA-covered credit bureaus, including the specialty credit bureaus. Currently, consumers do not have a way of finding the smaller credit reporting entities, and as such cannot meaningfully exercise their rights under the FCRA.
  • That the FTC compile a list of data brokers with links to opt outs that are available to consumers.

In its new report published today, the FTC has picked up WPF’s centralized opt out recommendation, specifically citing WPF’s comments.

From its report:

“The Commission recommends that the data broker industry explore the idea of creating a centralized website where data brokers that compile and sell data for marketing could identify themselves to consumers and describe how they collect consumer data and disclose the types of companies to which they sell the information.”

The WPF strongly supports this idea and views assistance to consumers in this area as vital.


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