ISPLA Update: More FTC Orders on Information Brokers
- FTC to Study Data Broker Industry's Collection and Use of Consumer Data
Commission Issues Nine Orders for Information to Analyze Industry's Privacy
The Federal Trade Commission
orders requiring nine data brokerage companies to provide the agency with
information about how they collect and use data about consumers. The agency
will use the information to study privacy practices in the data broker
Data brokers are companies that collect personal information about consumers
from a variety of public and non-public sources and resell the information
to other companies. In many ways, these data flows benefit consumers and
the economy; for example, having this information about consumers enables
companies to prevent fraud. Data brokers also provide data to enable their
customers to better market their products and services.
The nine data brokers receiving orders from the FTC are: 1) Acxiom, 2)
Corelogic, 3) Datalogix, 4) eBureau, 5) ID Analytics, 6) Intelius, 7)
Peekyou, 8) Rapleaf, and 9) Recorded Future. The FTC is seeking details
* <http://us.mc1210.mail.yahoo.com/mc/PicExportError> the nature and
sources of the consumer information the data brokers collect;
* <http://us.mc1210.mail.yahoo.com/mc/PicExportError> how they use,
maintain, and disseminate the information; and
* <http://us.mc1210.mail.yahoo.com/mc/PicExportError> the extent to
which the data brokers allow consumers to access and correct their
information or to opt out of having their personal information sold.
Earlier this year the FTC called on the data broker industry to improve the
transparency of its practices as part of a Commission report,
<http://ftc.gov/os/2012/03/120326privacyreport.pdf> Protecting Consumer
Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations for Businesses and
In the Privacy Report, the FTC set forth a voluntary framework of best
practices for businesses based on the concepts of privacy by design,
consumer control, and increased transparency for the collection and use of
consumer data. The Report noted that while data brokers collect, maintain,
and sell a wealth of information about consumers, they often do not interact
directly with consumers. Rather, they get information from public records
and purchase information from other companies.
As a result, consumers are often unaware of the existence of data brokers as
well as the purposes for which they collect and use consumers' data. This
lack of transparency also means that even when data brokers offer consumers
the ability to access their data, or provide other tools, many consumers do
not know how to exercise this right. There are no current laws requiring
data brokers to maintain the privacy of consumer data unless they use that
data for credit, employment, insurance, housing, or other similar purposes.
The FTC will use the responses it receives to prepare a study and to make
recommendations on whether, and how, the data broker industry could improve
its privacy practices. The Commission is authorized to issue Orders to File
a Special Report by Section 6(b) of the FTC Act.
ISPLA will continue to take steps to ensure that future regulations imposed
upon information brokers to not extend to private investigators.
Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
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