By Julia Angwin
ProPublica, Jan. 30, 2014
Data brokers have been around forever, selling mailing lists to companies that send junk mail. But in today’s data-saturated economy, data brokers know more information than ever about us, with sometimes disturbing results.
Earlier this month, OfficeMax sent a letter to a grieving father addressed to “daughter killed in car crash.” And in December, privacy expert Pam Dixon testified in Congress that she had found data brokers selling lists with titles such as “Rape Sufferers” and “Erectile Dysfunction sufferers.” And retailers are increasingly using this type of data to make from decisions about what credit card to offer people or how much to charge individuals for a stapler.
During my book research, I sought to obtain the data that brokers held about me. At first, I was excited to be reminded of the address of my dorm room and my old phone numbers. But thrill quickly wore off as the reports rolled in. I was equally irked by the reports that were wrong — data brokers who thought I was a single mother with no education — as I was by the ones that were correct — is it necessary for someone to track that I recently bought underwear online? So I decided to opt out from the commercial data brokers.
View the full article here, Privacy Tools: Opting Out from Data Brokers and get a list of the names of companies that track your information, links to their privacy pages, and instructions on how to opt out.