Washington Post – Brokers Use ‘Billions’ of Data Points to Profile Americans

Logo-for-Washington-PostYesterday’s Washington Post featured a fascinating article – ‘Brokers Use ‘Billions’ of Data Points to Profile Americans’ that references a recently released FTC report on Data Brokers (you can download the FTC report below).

While data brokers are central to the article and the FTC report, the larger issue is whether and how privacy should be safeguarded.  As we advance  into the next stage of predictive analytics by gathering immense amounts of consumer data, the notion of ‘solving for X’, is revealing massive opportunities, and naturally, significant questions about what and when is too much.  While marketers might regard highlighting data brokers as a bit anachronistic, its worth taking a step back to ponder the notion of privacy.

Are you a financially strapped working mother who smokes? A Jewish retiree with a fondness for Caribbean cruises? Or a Spanish-speaking professional with allergies, a dog and a collection of Elvis memorabilia?”, writes journalist Craig Timberg for the Washington Post.

Picture of the Federal Trade Commission Report on Data Brokers - A Call For Transparency - May 2014The notion of the article is based on an impressive FTC (Federal Trade Commission) report release this May. The report’s first sentence reads “in today’s economy, Big Data is big business. Data brokers—companies that collect consumers’ personal information and resell or share that information with others—are important participants in this Big Data economy.”

The Washington Post article highlights that the report “provided an unusually detailed account of the system of commercial surveillance that draws on government records, shopping habits and social-media postings to help marketers hone their advertising pitches”.  Moreover, Mr. Timberg notes that the “FTC called for legislation to bring transparency to the multibillion-dollar industry and give consumers some control over how their data is used.”

The article and the FTC report are worth reading.

Download the FTC Report on Data Brokers

Click on the link below to download the Federal Trade Commission Report on data brokers.

To read this excellent Wall Street Journal editorial on the WSJ web site, click here.

By Nick Mavrick

You can find Nick Mavrick on Google+

Intelligent Response specializes in operationalizing Predictive Analytics and Digital Advocacy projects from start to finish in Washington DC.

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