Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Data brokers have an indirect but serious effect on "online reputation"; FTC runs a "sting"

“Online reputation”, the way pundits have discussed the problem in terms of social media exposure, may be overridden by data collection companies, according to a story by Craig Timberg on p A10 of the Washington Post on Wednesday, May 08, 2013. Federal Trade Commission employees posed as potential customers in a civil “sting”. The link for the story (“Data brokerage industry warned on privacy rules”) is here

The FTC has its own press release on the matter, here

The companies accumulate data on consumers from a variety of sources, including credit reports and public records, as well as social media.  Because of identity theft, there is a risk that much of the information is wrong.  Information is marketed to various kinds of clients, often for offers. But  it can also be used to build off-site blacklists for insurance, housing and employment.

The list of affected companies includes 4Nannies (regarded to nanny employment), Brokers Data, Case Breakers, ConsumerBase, Criminal Check, People Search, Now, U.S. Information Search, U.S. Data Corporation, and USA People Search.
Here’s a YouTube video by KMIR6 (Palm Springs CA) on data brokers, from March 2013.

Some of the reputational issues that these companies can pose would have predated the Internet.  Yet, I did not encounter problems from them myself during most of my own adult life

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