As long promised, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) introduced legislation aimed at regulating the data broker industry.
Joined by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Rockefeller filed the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act (the DATA Act), which would prohibit the use of deceptive means to gather data, would give consumers the right to access their information at least once a year and at no cost, the opportunity to correct errors in their record, and the choice to opt out from the collection and sale of their information for marketing purposes.
“Consumers deserve to know what information about their personal lives is being collected and sold to marketers by data brokers,” Sen. Rockefeller said in a statement about the bill. “This booming shadow industry, that generated more than $150 billion in 2012 and operates with very little scrutiny and oversight, is making tremendous profits off practices that can be disturbing and totally unfair to consumers.”
The DATA Act would grant the Federal Trade Commission enforcement authority and the power to impose civil penalties. FTC Commissioner Julie Brill (who has been a vocal advocate for a “Reclaim Your Name” program for data brokers) already declared her support for the proposed law. “This bill will allow us to begin the next phase of the very important conversation about giving consumers control over the profiles, often rich in sensitive information, that data brokers collect about them,” she told Adweek.
Members of the ad industry were less excited. “Imposing an access and correct regime on marketing data is not necessary to protect consumer privacy and doing so would make it harder for companies to keep data secure at a time when consumers are more concerned about identity theft than ever before,” Direct Marketing Association’s senior vice president of government affairs, Peggy Hudson, said to Adweek.
To read the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, click here.
Why it matters: Sen. Rockefeller finally made good on his promise to introduce a bill providing oversight of the data broker industry after conducting a yearlong investigation and releasing a report on industry practices that found data brokers “operate behind a veil of secrecy.” The question remains: What are the bill’s chances of passage? Though Sen. Rockefeller could push hard, having focused on the issue for years and as a final hurrah before he retires later this year, the legislation will face serious pushback from the industry.