ABC News: Imagine making shadowy data brokers erase your personal info. Californians may soon live the dream
September 14, 2023
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit focused on bolstering the right to privacy, defines data brokers as companies that collect and categorize personal information, usually to build profiles on millions of Americans that the companies can then rent, sell or use to provide services. The data they collect, per EPIC, can include: “names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, gender, age, marital status, children, education, profession, income, political preferences, and cars and real estate owned.”
That’s not to mention “information on an individual’s purchases, where they shop, and how they pay for their purchases,” plus “health information, the sites we visit online, and the advertisements we click on. And thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and wearables, data brokers collect and sell real-time location data.”
Privacy advocates have warned for years that location and seemingly non-specific personal data — often collected by advertisers and amassed and sold by brokers — can be used to identify individuals. They also charge that the data often isn’t well secured and that the brokers aren’t covered by laws that require the clear consent of the person being tracked. They’ve argued for both legal and technical protections so that consumers can push back.
Read more here.