Monday, July 05, 2010

Data brokerage companies may offer consumers opt-outs of their public records information being sold

I had a random conversation with someone on the DC Metro last night on the way back from the July 4 celebrations, who told me that his wife worked in intellectual property law, and, after talking about the Facebook controversies, we got to a discussion of data brokers and how personal information can be bought from them even when unlisted.

He said that data brokerage companies generally have an individual opt-out policy which means that you can go to each company and request that that company not sell your personal information, even if it comes from legal sources such as official public records (as maintained by local governments). However, you have to go to each company separately, and there can be many of them. In addition, some local governments publish personal information on line, especially with real estate tax records.

Here is the take on this problem from Intellius (link to privacy policy).

This information could be important to families or individuals that believe they could be especially prone to security problems.

I didn’t see a comparable policy at ChoicePoint (link ) == “purchase a shredder”. Not good.

Moreover the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has information of the merger between Reed-Elsevier (owner of Lexus-Nexus) and ChoicePoint, and says it threatens privacy, link here. I’m not sure how old this posting is. but see next note.

See also "BillBoushka" blog, Feb. 29, 2008 for posting about data brokerage companies and online reputation. On Jan.. 30, 2008 on that blog there is discussion of the Reed-Elsevier merger, originating with an Erickson Times, a senior newsletter, article and later a Washington Post story.

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