We live in the era of Big Data, which seeks to commoditize our personal preferences for pecuniary gain. In this changing landscape, data brokers, or information reselling companies, compile information about individuals from a wide range of sources and subsequently sell this information to businesses worldwide. Such practices, however, mostly take place in the shadows without consumers’ knowledge or consent, compromising their individual rights to privacy. Further, data brokers often aggregate raw pieces of individual information in a discriminatory manner, leaving consumers vulnerable to predatory and unsavory marketing practices. A 2014 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Report, Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability, specifically addressed such concerns raised by the data broker industry. This Comment analyzes the FTC’s findings and demonstrates that the FTC’s recommendations, while a step in the right direction, missed the mark on adequate data privacy reform. Rather than taking a piecemeal approach to data privacy in the United States, comprehensive legislation similar to the EU’s Data Privacy Directive is necessary to ameliorate the privacy and discrimination concerns facing American consumers today.
The Invisible Middleman: A Critique and Call for Reform of the Data Broker Industry,
Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus.