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Data brokers' collection of internet activity data raises privacy issues

Taylor Armerding | Nov. 8, 2013
Some find the data collected on them amusing or even boring, but privacy advocates say there is good cause to worry.

Pam Dixon said the WPF has, "requested a single opt-out portal from the FTC for many years. We are particularly interested in a portal for FCRA-covered entities and specialty credit bureaus. Consumers have a very hard time finding them and asserting their rights under the FCRA."

Westby is dubious that the initiative will do much to improve privacy. Taking Acxiom up on its offer to suppress information for marketing purposes, "will not reduce the number of ads and offers you receive — it just means that some of them may be less relevant to you," she said. "That's ridiculous. In fact, to opt-out may actually result in more ads because they will not be targeted."

Still, there are a few things consumers can do to stay under the radar. Justin Brookman said he uses "loyalty" cards, which are another way retailers and data brokers track consumer buying habits, "but I fill them out with false information."


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