What are data brokers and how are they abusing your data?

What data do they collect?

By collecting user data from many different sources, data brokers are able to paint a very precise picture of people’s lives. They might know your income, age, gender, and home address. But some aim to dig even deeper, collecting specific data, like location, shopping behavior, or psychological traits. When combining all this information with your online behavior, brokers get an understanding of how your relationship is going, the condition of your health, looking for another job, and or if you’re about to move to another city.

How is the information collected?

The data is collected through many different sources. Third-party cookies, public wifi networks, and website scraping are most commonly used to gather information. If you accept all cookies and have your Facebook profile on “public”, chances are brokers have quite a rich profile of you.

How do they sell it?

One way is through the website Datarade.ai, a data broker aggregation platform, we can see the brokers promoting their customer datasets. “Gravy Analytics,” tells the potential data buyers that they know the customer’s travel destination, and shopping and eating habits. Additionally, they claim to receive 1.5bn new data points each day. Companies can already access this dataset, starting at $1.

The party is ending

Although these practices have been going on for years now, regulators starting to act. Both GDPR, CCPA, and equivalent regulations have taken action. Regulators have asked for more transparency and enforcement of consent validation, international data sharing, and easier and more transparent ways to opt out.

Our take

We’re not against the fact that companies use customer data to offer them a better experience and service. We enjoy viewing relevant content. However, we don’t believe the way third-party brokers operate is the right one. Data transactions should be transparent and user-centric. We feel strongly that users should know what data is being collected and should get the choice of who they share it with.

More on the topic

https://www.wired.com/story/opinion-data-brokers-are-a-threat-to-democracy/

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