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Jeff Sovern on Restraining Data Brokers

In the Media
Monday, March 10, 2014

Letter to the Editor
The New York Times
March 6, 2014

Acxiom, a company that tells consumers what data it has collected about us, reports incorrectly all of the following: my income; whether I live with children; that I own a truck; that I have bought art, antiques, jewelry, bathroom furnishings, window treatments and golf products; and that I am interested in fine cooking, crafts, collecting antiques and golf. (Acxiom thinks that I’m much more fun than I am.)

It accurately reports my ethnicity, birthday, marital status, political party and lots of other information about me.

I wonder what other companies know about us, how much of it is incorrect, and to whom they provide the information. What consequences flow from the incorrect records? Why should strangers be able to buy private information about us without our knowledge, and what do they do with the information they collect?

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