Consumer Privacy Defended In FTC’s Caution To Congress On Data Brokers



The Federal Trade Commission on Monday called on Congress to shed light on the opaque world of data brokers who collect and sell consumer data but remain largely invisible to the public.

In a report released Monday, the FTC called for legislation to give consumers access to personal data held by brokers and allow them to correct any inaccurate information. The commission also suggested a website where brokers could identify themselves to consumers and describe how they collect and disclose information.

Though largely unknown to the general public, data brokers gather information from a variety of public and private sources, including home purchase histories, change of address forms, credit card activity and even address information from local pizza delivery shops, according to Ashkan Soltani, a noted privacy researcher. Then they sell that data to buyers who use it for a variety of purposes, often for online marketing.

In a conference call with reporters, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Monday that data brokers are “invisible to consumers.”

Privacy advocates praised the commission’s call for greater transparency.

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)