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Commercial Companies Accessing and Selling Your Personal Data

While recent news reports have focused on the NSA’s PRISM program and the government’s use of personal data to detect terror threats, a recent news report sheds new light on the massive commercial business of collecting and selling personal data.

CBS News recently broadcast a special investigative report regarding data brokers who collect personal information about you and sell it to other commercial entities.  The amount of data being collected is staggering, with complete dossiers being compiled on millions of people including purchase histories, buying preferences, on-line browsing history, and even medical and prescription drug information.  The report highlighted the fact that every time you access a website it is more than likely that there are many other entities monitoring and recording your activity on that site for information that they package and sell to someone else.

This quote from the story says it all: “No one even knows how many companies there are trafficking in our data.  But it’s certainly in the thousands, and would include research firms, all sorts of Internet companies, advertisers, retailers, and trade associations.  The largest data broker is Acxiom, a marketing giant that brags it has, on average, 1,500 pieces of information on more than 200 million Americans.”

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