Senator Asks Websites About Data Collection2 Oct, 2013 By: Doug McPherson
WASHINGTON – Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has asked the companies behind 12 websites if they share consumer data with third parties, after learning some data brokers may get data from websites that have collected and passed on personal information they gathered from surveys, sweepstakes and questionnaires.
Rockefeller called on personal finance, health and family-focused websites so he can continue his investigation into the way data brokers collect and share a consumer’s personal information.
Some of the sites include: About.com, Health.com (Time Inc.), Bankrate.com, Realage.com, Self.com (Conde Nast), Fool.com (The Motley Fool), Mensfitness.com, Investopedia.com (ValueClick Brands) and Ehealthforum.com (Internet Brands).
Rockefeller said he’s calling on these particular sites because of their popularity and that he believes they may be collecting detailed or sensitive information about a consumer’s health or financial status. “When consumers provide personal information in interactions with websites, they may not be aware that data they are sharing may be shared with data brokers,” wrote Rockefeller. “Consumers may also not be aware of how that information may be used once it has been shared with data brokers.”
Rockefeller launched an investigation into the data broker industry in October 2012 to give consumers a better understanding of how their personal information may be collected, shared, and used. In the letters, Rockefeller said several data brokers have refused to disclose specific sources of consumer data, preventing an understanding how the industry operates.
Peggy Hudson, senior vice president of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), issued this statement in response to the Senator’s action:
“Americans have fully embraced a data-driven way of life – and the countless economic and social benefits they derive from responsible data use. Our economy is data-driven – in 2012 alone, data-driven marketers accounted for 8.7 percent of total U.S. GDP and supported a total of 9.2 million U.S. jobs. The companies targeted in Chairman Rockefeller’s ‘data broker’ investigation have submitted tens of thousands of pages explaining their business models and the incredible value that responsible data use provides to consumers. It is unfortunate that after receiving all of that evidence, Chairman Rockefeller has chosen to single out a couple of poorly named marketing categories as a reason to demagogue an industry that is the brightest beacon of American innovation – creating products and services that consumers love and demand – and the engine of the U.S. economic and employment growth.”
Those interested in speaking with the DMA on this topic are urged to E-mail: [email protected].