July 25th, 2012
Congress to Examine Data Sellers
By Natasha Singer
New York Times
In a move that could lay bare the inner workings of the consumer data industry, eight members of Congress have opened a sweeping investigation into data brokers — companies that collect, collate, analyze and sell billions of details annually about consumers’ offline, online and mobile activities for marketing and other purposes.
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas, co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, along with six other lawmakers, sent letters of inquiry on Tuesday afternoon to nine leading industry players. In the letters, the legislators requested extensive information about how the companies amass, refine, sell and share consumer data.
Data brokers often collect details about people’s financial, retail and recreational activities to help clients like airlines, automakers, banks, credit card issuers and retailers retain their best customers and woo new ones.