Data brokers are corporations that collect huge amounts of personally identifiable information (PII) from a variety of sources like government public records and social media.
These data brokers aggregate data, cleanse it, analyze it and then license it and sell it to other data brokers or other organizations with an interest in the data.
Data brokers range from people search websites, background check websites, marketing research agencies and even credit reporting agencies.
In today’s world, it makes sense that large companies would base their interactions with consumers on data. Yet, it also brings up a great deal of questions and concerns about privacy and fairness.
How do data brokers get your information?
Data brokers crawl the web searching for information, and use it to build a profile of you. They find this from government and other public records, self-reported information, social media, and other data brokers. Read more here.
Who are these data brokers?
There are many data brokers out there. The most common data brokers that everyday people are familiar with are people search websites and background check websites. Some of the most common sites include Mylife.com, Whitepages.com, BeenVerified.com and Spokeo.com.
Why are data brokers a problem?
Data brokers can help to facilitate ID theft, they can ruin job opportunities (or romantic dates), or even provide grounds for discrimination.
Most people are aware that our social media activity and our Google searches are recorded and used for specific advertisement targeting. The darker side of data collection lies in the data you consider to be private. Legally, there are very few online privacy laws in the US; it has mostly been left up to the states to create regulation.
As personally identifiable information shuttles around the world in unsecure data packets, the risk of identity theft skyrockets.
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