In an effort to study privacy practices in the data broker industry, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted 5-0 to issue orders requiring nine data brokers – companies that collect, analyze, and sell personal information of consumers – to reveal how they gather and use data about consumers, according to an FTC news release available at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/12/databrokers.shtm. The FTC – the agency that works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices – will use the responses received from the data brokers to prepare a study and to make recommendations on whether, and how, the data broker industry can improve privacy practices. Specifically, the FTC is seeking details from the nine data brokers regarding:
- The nature and sources of the consumer information the data brokers collect;
- How they use, maintain, and disseminate the information; and
- 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.