'Data Brokers' Are Collecting and Selling Some Very Private Information About You - The Wire
Have you been to a gynecologist in the last 12 months? Ever been treated for depression? Have you been raped? Data brokers may very well know about it and are selling that information to marketers in a largely unregulated $156 billion industry.
A Senate Committee released a 36-page report today and had a hearing on its findings, which showed that the data brokerage industry -- which isn't new but has more ways than ever to collect information on us -- could be, in the words of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, more worrisome than the NSA.
Things like your credit score and medical records are not available to data brokers under federal law, but "e-credit scores" are not covered by those laws, nor are products you might buy to treat a health condition over the counter or searches you may perform about health conditions online (or searches you perform about ANYTHING online). You may not know that this information was provided to a data broker, and there's no way to find out what information, if any, a data broker has on you. It may not even be accurate...
Most of the time, the data is used for marketing purposes. That can include predatory lenders looking for people who fall into the "hard times" or "rural and barely making it" category. But there have been cases where it falls into worse hands. In October, for instance, it was reported that Experian sold Social Security numbers to an identity theft service posing as a private investigator.