How to get a Finnish IP address
The easiest way to improve your digital privacy is to switch your IP address using a VPN. We’ll …
Data brokers have lots of personal information about you; here’s what you can do about that.
Ever heard of the term “data broker”? What do you think that is? Think about that for a moment. Yep, you got it: An entity that goes after your data and sells it to another entity.
The entity that gets the data, the broker, is called a consumer data company. They snatch huge amounts of data from individuals all over the planet and sell it. And who wants your personal information? Your information is of significant value to marketers, companies doing background checks and in some cases, and the government.
They want to know what you like to buy, what you’re most likely to buy, if you want to lose weight, build muscle, what kind of cars you like, where you vacation, what you eat, where you shop for clothes, what kind of disease you have, whether or not you’ve been assaulted or if you have committed a crime…all so they can get a solid picture of who you are.
You now know about data brokers: a whole new industry that reflects our evolving technology. Lawmakers have taken notice of this flourishing industry, trying to get companies to give some control to consumers over what becomes of their data.
At least one data broker makes it possible for you to see how much data is out there about you and to possibly edit and update it. But that’s not enough.
They build you up from the inside out; starting with skeletal information (name, address, age, race) and padding the meat on from there: education level, medical conditions, income, life events, (buying a home, getting divorced), driving record, law suits against you, credit scores and more. One credit reporting agency even sells lists of the names of people expecting babies and who has newborns. They even sell lists of people who make charitable donations and read romance novels. Data brokers can even get ahold of your income information.
This doesn’t mean that any one data broker knows everything about you. It’s just that a heck of a lot of personal information about you is potentially scattered all over the place. Data brokering is legal: a multi-billion dollar industry involving trillions of transactions every day. But this doesn’t mean the consumer is without rights or power. You can, indeed, do some reclaiming of your name from the data brokering industry.
Sit and wait: As mentioned, lawmakers are putting the heat on data companies to make it possible for consumers to have some control over all of this. The FTC recommended in a 2012 report that the data mining industry establish a website that reveals names of U.S. data brokers plus other relevant information.