NYT Publishes Sovern Letter on Data Brokers

The New York Times published Professor Jeff Sovern’s letter to the editor supporting enactment of laws obliging information data brokers to disclose to consumers the information they collect about them.  The letter, which is a response to Jo Nocera’s op-ed, The Wild West of Privacy, states in part:

Acxiom, a company that tells consumers what data it has collected about us, reports incorrectly all of the following: my income; whether I live with children; that I own a truck; that I have bought art, antiques, jewelry, bathroom furnishings, window treatments and golf products; and that I am interested in fine cooking, crafts, collecting antiques and golf. (Acxiom thinks that I’m much more fun than I am.)

It accurately reports my ethnicity, birthday, marital status, political party and lots of other information about me.

I wonder what other companies know about us, how much of it is incorrect, and to whom they provide the information. What consequences flow from the incorrect records? Why should strangers be able to buy private information about us without our knowledge, and what do they do with the information they collect?


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