Feeds

FTC calls for Congress to crack down on consumer data harvesting

Commission says measures needed to rein in brokers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is calling for stricter regulations on companies that gather and sell personal information.

The FTC said in a recent report (PDF) that it believes Congress should look to enact a new set of laws that will allow consumers to control when and how their personal information gets used for applications such as targeted advertising and market analysis.

The aim of the report, released Tuesday by the commission, is to provide the public with a clearer picture on how "data broker" firms operate. Collecting public information such as voting records, finance information, or purchase and browsing histories, the specialized firms seek to pool data in specific areas, then combine findings with those of other firms to create a larger picture of how people act both online and offline.

While many data brokers put their findings to use in marketing and market analysis campaigns, other records are used for more benign applications such as identity verification and fraud protections.

The primary concerns, according to the FTC, lie in how these data brokers go about collecting data and to what extent they allow users to see where and how information is collected and stored.

In its study, the commission noted that many of the data brokers it studied were not giving users a clear picture of just what information they were gathering and how it would be put to use.

"Data brokers acquire a vast array of detailed and specific information about consumers; analyze it to make inferences about consumers, some of which may be considered quite sensitive; and share the information with clients in a range of industries," the FTC said.

"Much of this activity takes place without consumers' knowledge."

To address the issue, the FTC recommends that Congress consider new legislation that would aim to provide clear rules and regulations on data collection, storage, and transparency. The proposed rules would include requirements that brokers allow users to view and opt out of their data collection programs. Other proposals include requirements that brokers explain how data is analysed and what assumptions are made (such as medical conditions) by analysis tools.

The Commission also suggests that brokers themselves should consider settling on a series of best practices to help individual firms craft policies for data collection, retention, and transparency.

"As part of privacy by design, data brokers should strive to assess their collection practices and, to the extent practical, collect only the data they need and properly dispose of the data as it becomes less useful," the FTC wrote.

"This is particularly important in light of companies' increased ability to collect, aggregate, and match consumer data and to develop secondary uses for the data in ways that consumers could never have contemplated when they provided the information." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
DVLA website GOES TITSUP on day paper car tax discs retire
Welcome to GOV.UK - digital by de ... FAULT
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.