CBS’s “60 Minutes” had a segment on data brokers, companies that gather and sell personal information on individuals, and how they can affect an individual’s privacy:
They’re called data brokers, and they are collecting, analyzing and packaging some of our most sensitive personal information and selling it as a commodity…to each other, to advertisers, even the government, often without our direct knowledge. Much of this is the kind of harmless consumer marketing that’s been going on for decades. What’s changed is the volume and nature of the data being mined from the Internet and our mobile devices, and the growth of a multibillion dollar industry that operates in the shadows with virtually no oversight.
Companies and marketing firms have been gathering information about customers and potential customers for years, collecting their names and addresses, tracking credit card purchases, and asking them to fill out questionnaires, so they can offer discounts and send catalogues. But today we are giving up more and more private information online without knowing that it’s being harvested and personalized and sold to lots of different people…our likes and dislikes, our closest friends, our bad habits, even your daily movements, both on and offline. Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill says we have lost control of our most personal information.
Read the full transcript.