The FTC recently issued orders requiring several data brokerage companies to provide information and documents detailing how they collect and use consumer data. According to the FTC, it will use the information to study privacy practices in the data broker industry and publish a report making recommendations on how the industry could improve its privacy practices. In its orders, the FTC seeks details about: (1) the nature and sources of the consumer information the brokers collect; (2) how they use, maintain, and disseminate the information; and (3) whether and how they allow consumers to access or correct their information or to opt out of having their information sold. According to the orders, confidential or privileged information given to the FTC will be reported by the Commission on an aggregate or anonymous basis.
TIP: Because data brokers play a key role in privacy issues, but are not well understood by consumers, the FTC has taken a special interest in data brokers' privacy practices in 2012. We expect the agency to maintain or even sharpen this focus in 2013.