In advance of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on data brokers Wednesday (Dec. 18), Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D- W.Va.) plans to release a report summarizing the findings of his year-long investigation into how those brokers collect and market online data.
The findings will help inform the hearing, which will feature industry representatives as well as marketing and privacy experts.
In October 2012, Rockefeller launched a Committee inquiry, seeking info from Acxiom, Experian, Epsilon, Reed Elsevier, Equifax, TransUnion, Rapleaf, Spokeo, and Datalogix, focused on their marketing of the data collected and spurred by the realization that much of what those brokers do was without scrutiny.
The report is expected to contain info on what and how the data is collected, and how it is used, with the exceptions of Acxiom, Experian, and Epsilon, which Rockefeller says have "largely refused to identify to the Committee their specific data sources or their specific customers."
"For the past year, this Committee has been trying to bring some much needed oversight to the data broker industry. Tomorrow's hearing is the first time we are publicly discussing what we are learning in this investigation and some of the practices that raise some serious consumer protection concerns to me," said Rockefeller in a statement. "When government or law enforcement agencies collect information about us, they are restrained by our Constitution and our laws; and they are subject to the oversight of courts, Inspectors General, and Congress. But data brokers go about their business with little or no oversight. While there are laws on the books that protect the privacy of Americans' health and financial information, they do not cover data brokers' marketing activities – and I want to assure these data brokers that the oversight efforts this Committee has started will continue."