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Rockefeller Seeks More Info on Data Brokers

Expands Investigation into Online Data Collection, Sale 9/25/2013 11:55 AM Eastern

 

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) has expanded his investigation into data brokers collection and sale of online information, sending letters to a sampling of a dozen sites that are "among the most popular online sources of advice and information on health, family, and personal finance issues," which he says might collect detailed or sensitive health or financial information.

In the letter Tuesday to Conde Nast Publications regarding its self.com site--the letter Rockefeller linked to in a release on the letters sent by his office--the senator said that data brokers he had contacted as part of an investigation that began last fall had refused to identify sources of consumer information, saying with regard to consumer-facing Web sites that it generally obtained it from surveys, questionnaire and sweepstakes.

He points out that self.com invites consumers to provide personal info related to surveys and sweepstakes; he also points out that its privacy policy allows for sharing with third parties. He wants to know whether that policy allows for sharing of that personal info with third parties.

Rockefeller said he also wants to find out how data brokers put online consumers in categories like "rural and barely making it" and "ethnic second-city strugglers" for marketing purposes.

Among the questions Rockefeller wants Conde Nast and others to answer by Oct. 11 includes whether their company: 1) collects personally identifiable health, family financial or other records; 2) shares that personally identifiable info with third parties; and 3) allows third parties to directly collect info.

In addition to self.com, letters went to About.com, Health.com (Time Inc.), Bankrate.com, Realage.com (Sharecare Inc.), Cafemom.com, Fool.com (The Motley Fool), Finance.youngmoney.com (Young Money LLC), Mensfitness.com (Galvanized Brands LLC), Investopedia.com (ValueClick Brands), Ehealthforum.com (Internet Brands), and Babycenter.com.

September