Rockefeller Seeks Info From Online Data Brokers

Points to Info Breaches, FTC Recommendation for Legislation

The chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee has sent letters to Reed-Elsevier (Lexis-Nexis), Spokeo, Experian and a half-dozen other data brokers seeking detailed info on how they compile and sell consumer information.

"Collecting, storing and selling information about Americans raises all types of questions that require careful scrutiny," said Rockefeller. "While these practices may offer some benefits to consumers, they deserve to know what's being collected about them and how companies profit from their information," Rockefeller said in a statement Wednesday.

As like is increasingly lived online, from buying products to planning trips to researching medical conditions, to working, to connecting with friends and loved ones, Rockefeller is concered about how much of that will be available for downloading by others and the size of the digital footprint will be, a path that could be potentially damaging if improperly tracked.

Rockefeller pointed to increased scrutiny on industry practices by the media and Federal Trade Commission, and the FTC's proposal in March  for legislation to give consumers more control of data broker information. He also cited several high-profile data breaches in seeking answers to the following questions. 1) What data do you collect? How granular is it? 3) How do you get it? 4) Who uses it and for what?.

He wants a draft of data, and he wants it by Nov. 2.

The letter comes a day after the Digital Advertising Alliance said it would not require its members to honor do not track requests from Microsoft Explore 10's new browser-based do-not-track regime because it is the browser's default setting, not simply an option.

Rockefeller recently told FTC Chair John Leibowitz that he believes DAA's self-regulatory mechanisms have failed.

Rockefeller has introduced Do Not Track legislation, which would give the FTC more authority to enforce a DNT regime.