The FTC announced today that they have issued orders to nine "data brokerage" companies asking those companies to provide the Commission with information about how they collect and use data about consumers, indicating that they "will use the information to study privacy practices in the data broker industry." Read the full press release.
According to the FTC, data brokerage companies or "data brokers" are "companies that collect personal information about consumers from a variety of public and non-public sources and resell the information to other companies." The FTC noted that these companies may benefit consumers and the economy by helping to prevent fraud and enabling other companies to better market their products and services. Still, the FTC is asking these companies to provide details about the nature and sources of the consumer information the data brokers collect; how they use, maintain, and disseminate the information; and the extent to which the data brokers allow consumers to access and correct their information or to opt out of having their personal information sold. The FTC indicated that they will use the responses it receives to prepare a study and to make recommendations on whether, and how, the data broker industry could improve its privacy practices.