Why Can’t We Stop Data Brokers from Selling and Using our Data?
Data brokers operate on a sneaky, stealth practice when people find out about how much information they are mining they wonder why can’t we stop the data brokers from selling and using our data. The fact that they don’t make us aware that they are taking and using our personal information should give them a good clue. Most of the biggest companies claim that everything they have about us is public record and, therefore, they have a right to compile it and sell it. The problem is that much of the public information is mixed with private information. Things like social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and other things that are “public” or provided by public domain, does not make them legally or ethnically public domain. This includes information data brokers gather or purchase from social media, shopping websites, and out of trash cans. Like the person going through your garbage looking for a credit card slip, does it make it legal for them to do so just because you threw it out?
Companies like data broker Lexis Nexis barricade themselves behind layers upon layers of legal jargon. They are, after all, a legal database. Many of their top level employees are attorneys and they serve the larger legal community. This explains why they are able to get away with harvesting, accumulating and selling our data scraps to the highest bidder without any legal consequences. The best you can do is send some of the various data brokers a request for a copy of the file they have on you. Some journalists have attempted this only to be told there is no file on them. Others have been sent multiple pages of data that turned out to be inaccurate, sloppily compiled and convoluted. Though many journalists have tried to penetrate the organization to find out what, if any, laws they may be in violation of, no one has yet cracked the story and gotten to the bottom of their practices.
Since data brokers are responsible for the majority of your data being bought, sold, stored and fabricated, you may want to get a look at the file they are keeping on you. Even if you make every effort to not have your personal information easily available, they still find info. You can minimize what’s out there by staying off social media and other forums. By not posting private info and opting-out whenever possible. Often, despite our best efforts at keeping our information offline, sometimes it’s too late and various data miners and data harvesters have already gotten some of your personal information such as your address, phone number or other info. As a result of all this data gathering, you may do a search and find out that your personal information has already ended up online. If you find your name and address are online, contact an internet removal service who can show you how to remove your information from the internet. They can also delete information and remove your address from the internet.