The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday announced it is ordering nine so-called “data broker” agencies, companies that traffic in consumer purchasing and demographics information, to turn over more detailed plans of how they collect their consumer data.
The FTC is concerned about a “lack of transparency” from data brokers and notes that “consumers are often unaware of the existence of data brokers as well as the purposes for which they collect and use consumers’ data.”
To help remedy that, the FTC is initiating a study on the following nine companies: Acxiom, Corelogic, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, Peekyou, Rapleaf, Recorded Future and Datalogix, the latter of which was the source of controversy after The Financial Times reported in September that Datalogix had partnered with Facebook to provide the social networking company information on how advertisements were influencing consumer purchasing. Datalogix reportedly has purchasing data on 70 million U.S. households.
Acxiom itself was the subject of a probing New York Times profile last summer, which stated the company “peers deeper into American life than the F.B.I. or the I.R.S., or those prying digital eyes at Facebook and Google.”
To be clear, the FTC is not launching any formal investigations into the companies, but merely wants to study the industry and develop best practices.