Legislation to restrict data brokers from collecting or soliciting consumer information in deceptive ways was introduced this week in Congress by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).
Consumers would be able to access and correct their information and opt out of having it sold for marketing purposes if the legislation succeeds.
It is a common practice of data brokers to gather information on consumers and sell it to companies. The practice is monitored as the numbers of data brokers increase, more consumers are profiled and access to data is more widely available through the Internet and other technologies.
Sen. Rockefeller has requested information from six companies about their products used to find consumers based on their financial or health status. I am concerned that these products seem tailor-made for businesses seeking to take advantage of consumers, he told The Wall Street Journal.
The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau previously have expressed concern about data brokers practices. The FTC warned 10 data brokers last May that they may be violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The 10 companies that received the warning letters included:
ConsumerBase and one additional unnamed company for appearing to offer pre-screened lists of consumers for use in making firm offers of credit.
Brokers Data and US Data Corp. for appearing to offer consumer information for use in making insurance decisions.
Crimcheck.com, 4Nannies, U.S. Information Search, People Search Now, Case Breakers and USA People Search for appearing to offer consumer information for employment purposes.