Your data for sale and you don’t even know it

In a hearing on December 18, 2013 in Washington DC by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, information was given that should give all consumers pause when contemplating their next purchase or even their next web search.

Speaking to members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, World Privacy Forum Executive Director Pam Dixon described herself as a “moderate” when it came to data brokers, but shocking research convinced her that the industry was in need of regulation.

“The data broker industry as it is today, does not have constraints and it does not have shame,” she explained. “It will sell any information about any person regardless of sensitivity for 7.9 cents a name, which is the price of a list of rape sufferers which was recently sold.”

“Lists of rape sufferers, victims of domestic violence, police officers’ home addresses, people who suffer from genetic illnesses,” Dixon continued. “Complete with names, home addresses, ethnicity, gender and many other factors. This is what’s being sold and circulated today.”

Now, everybody’s going bat shiite crazy over the NSA metadata collection issue, but I have not heard any of the major media outlets discussing this issue.  It’s been said that the NSA gathered information but I don’t think anything’s been said to lead me to think their information is anywhere near as explicit as what’s being sold to God knows who.

Most people give up information voluntarily without even realizing what they’re doing.  Many stores ask for your zip code when making a purchase.  It seems pretty innocuous, but combining your zip code with the name and information from your credit card, companies can track your purchases to the point where a pregnant woman ends up getting coupons and product samples without informing anybody about her pregnancy.  Simply using that credit card to buy products associated with pregnancy gives enough information over time for companies to figure out that you’re expecting a child.

For information related to the hearing including a full video webcast, click here.  The hearing is quite long, but I think it is well worth the watching.  I only wish I could embed the video directly into this site.  This is something that obviously needs to be known by all.  While the NSA is out collecting data, there are other companies making a profit by collecting your consumer data and selling it to whomever wants it.  It doesn’t matter whether they put your life in danger or not.


4 thoughts on “Your data for sale and you don’t even know it

    • I knew about some of this from my time in retail. I didn’t realize how detailed the information was though. It goes to show that anything can and will be sold in the name of capitalism.


  1. People laugh at me for paying cash. 😉 When they ask me my zip code, I usually just lie.
    I’ve always been one who thrives on anonymity.

    This does bring up one question I’ve always wondered about, though, who owns your medical records, you or your doctor?


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