People who today use Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple understand that these companies collect their data in an effort to improve their experience and to generate revenue by selling advertising. But there is less awareness of companies — generally referred to as data brokers — that collect, source and otherwise license information about consumers who are not their customers. The growing commercial use of data is outpacing the public’s understanding….
Data-driven marketing helps businesses reduce wasteful ad spending and helps fund free or low-cost consumer products and services on the internet, including free search, email and social media platforms, as well as customized content. In many cases, it also funds the press and other channels of expression. Our business is underpinned by policies on comprehensive data governance, in an effort to ensure that data use is transparent, fair and just, that there are benefits for both businesses and consumers. We help marketers follow the golden rule of business — “Know Your Customer” — so that they can deliver a better experience. Unfortunately, the irresponsible actions of some individuals and organizations have cast a shadow over our industry. They violate consumers’ privacy, profit from stolen data and commit fraud.
Increasing transparency — initially through a data broker registry and ultimately through a robust and balanced national privacy law — would help reduce the conflation of legitimate, regulated entities with unethical companies and criminals.