How Much Money Are Data Brokers Making From Our Information?
People often wonder how much money data brokers are making from selling our information. The answer to how much big data is making is—billions. Unfortunately, many companies who purchase data from data brokers don’t realize that most of what they have compiled is totally inaccurate. With the exception of some minor truths, most of the data is skewed, misinterpreted, filled-in by data broker employees with their “educated guess” as to what we would believe if asked certain questions, but since they don’t actually ask, they give their opinion of what they think our opinion would be. The interesting part of free social media in the United States is that people still believe that it’s really free!
From Gmail and Google, Chrome, Firefox, and IE, to Facebook, to Twitter and WeChat–Snapchat, LinkedIn, Amazon, MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, and about any other “free” application, are all tracking, storing, and selling all of your personal information to data brokers. If you check the stock prices of these companies you’ll see that many of them are worth a lot of money. Take Amazon for example; their stock is selling at nearly $2000.00 per share as of this writing. Not bad for a company whose interface is free to use, unless you subscribe to Prime. Amazon sells your information like your purchasing habits and personal data to data brokers. If you pay for Prime, and the cost keeps going up, you’re actually paying them for the privilege. Even with huge amounts of logged problems with their party counterfeit sellers with sub-par products, people still flock to Amazon. The company forces you to store your credit card or bank account information on their database also, which can leave customers vulnerable to data breaches. Companies like Facebook who owns Instagram also collect and sell your personal information. Facebook stock is selling for about $200 per share for a “free” app where you get to post what you ate for breakfast and where you ate it. Once you make that post, it’s saved and data brokers attack it like pirana or vultures. They buy it from Amazon, or Facebook, or other companies, and then sell that data to marketers for food products, travel companies, breakfast food manufactures, life insurance companies, and anyone else who can sell you something or judge you based on your love of eggs and toast.
If you’re on social media in any respect, your private life is no longer private, even if you go with the paid subscription of an app. The United States allows for the copying, buying and selling of all of your personal information. One of the biggest data brokers, Lexis Nexis, has said that the data is out there, and since people put it out there it’s fair game for them to use and sell. Most other data brokers feel the same way. The general opinion of their business is since we are offering up the data, it’s theirs to profit from. This is like saying if we dropped our wallet and the contents spilled out onto the ground, it would be ok for them to use our credit cards, our driver’s license, our contacts and take our cash, because we left it out in the open making it fair game. Both rationalizations are inherently dishonest. Many people call data brokers data thieves. Since they are purchasing the data from social media and other companies like grocery stores, it’s not clear if it can be considered direct theft. However, it is not uncommon for a thief to justify her or his actions by using some twisted version of the truth. Many people brag about being con artists until they’re the ones who get conned.
If it bothers you that your information is online for anyone to use, store, and sell then the best way to avoid that is to make an alias account and start removing existing information about yourself off of the internet. If you do a browser search and find that your name or address is online it may be time to look into an internet removal service. They can show you how to remove your information from the internet.