What are Data Brokers? and How They Sell Your Data

What are data brokers and how they sell your data? are you looking for the best answer to this question so, you are in the right place without any delay let’s start.

Discussions over data security and privacy frequently center on what the major internet oligopolies, including Google, Facebook, and others, do with the data of their customers. Less frequently discussed are companies whose whole business strategy revolves around gathering customer information and then selling it for profit. These companies are known as data brokers. However, who are they, how do they gather your personal information, what do they do with it, and how can you opt out?

1. What Are Data Brokers?

Data brokers are companies that either gather data themselves or purchase it from other businesses (such as a credit card company), scour the internet for interesting data on users (whether legally or otherwise), then combine that data with data from other sources (e.g. offline sources). Data brokerage has developed into a lucrative industry that generates $200 billion in income annually and is continually expanding, despite the fact that the majority of individuals aren’t even aware such businesses exist.

2. What Types of Data Do Data Brokers Collect?

Information is gathered by data brokers from a variety of online and offline sources.

  • Social media
  • Web History
  • Online and offline purchase history and warranty information
  • Credit card information
  • Government records (driver’s license and motor-vehicle records, census data, birth certificates, marriage licenses, voter-registration information, etc).

Among the categories of information that brokers gather and market are:

  • Full name
  • Address of residence (and previous addresses)
  • Telephone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Age and gender
  • Social security number
  • Data about real estate owned
  • Income
  • Education
  • Occupation

3. How is your data Used?

Your data is sold by data brokers to other businesses for a variety of commercial uses. These consist of:

  • Marketing and Advertising: Businesses buy data so they may modify their advertising, customer offers, and marketing messages for you. Political parties may use your data to target you with political messaging during election campaigns.
  • Risk mitigation: Some companies utilize data they purchase from data brokers to assist in the fight against fraud. For instance, they might verify that the data a customer provides on a loan application corresponds to the data brokers provide. Or, the data might be employed to estimate a customer’s risk of loan default.
  • Health insurance: Health insurance firms may utilize information about your health, such as the medications you purchase and the symptoms you look up online, to determine the rates you should be charged for coverage based on your data profile.
  • People search sites: With the help of people search websites, you may look up a person by name and – typically for a fee – obtain details about them, such as their address, phone number, email address, date of birth, etc. These sites’ content is provided by data brokers, which can occasionally be exploited for doxing, social engineering, or identity theft.

Businesses purchase audience segments (aka user segments, or simply audiences) from data brokers based on their needs.

Most AdTech systems, including demand-side and data-management platforms, are not interested in data like names, addresses, and other sensitive information when utilized for online advertising (e.g., ad targeting). However, they may also utilize a person’s age, gender, and wealth to better target ads. Instead, they are interested in a person’s online and purchase history.

4. How Do Data Brokers Make Money?

Although data brokers may employ a variety of business strategies, at its most basic level, data brokerage entails gathering and sourcing data as well as selling the most valuable user categories to other parties.

One of the largest scandals to date, for instance, was a data broker who sold contact information for rape victims, alcoholics, and men with erectile trouble to advertisers. These databases cost $79 for 1,000 contacts.

Audience segments are frequently offered for sale to AdTech businesses on a cost per mille (CPM) basis or as a percentage of media.
Despite the frequent reports of data brokers selling sensitive information to advertisers, the majority of data brokers, particularly those who sell to well-known advertising agencies, don’t sell such sensitive information and instead concentrate on the more typical categories like “sports enthusiast,” “music lover,” “impulse buyer,” etc.

5. Are data brokers legal?

Data brokers frequently operate inside the law or in close compliance with it, especially in nations where data policies are not strictly enforced.

When you fill out a form with your personal information to obtain a loyalty card (along with a 10% discount off future purchases in the business), the agreement to share your data with third-party brokers may be subtly included as one of the checkboxes you pick or provided to you in small language.

It’s interesting to note that while most people aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of someone selling their data, some people actively choose to take part in specialized data-broker programs like Luth Research, where you can get paid for voluntarily disclosing extremely specific information about yourself and your interests and consent to the data being resold to third parties so they can more effectively target you with their advertisements. It’s a win-win situation in theory.

6. How to protect yourself from data brokers?

To completely avoid data broker listings is difficult. You can still choose not to have your data collected by contacting each data broker site separately and asking them to delete your information, but this takes time. As an alternative, you can hire businesses to handle this for you. A better strategy is to make an effort to avoid being added to data broker lists in the first place by taking precautions to protect your online privacy.

Data collection sites: how to remove yourself

Here is a complete list of data brokers provided by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. This contains information about each broker’s opt-out process as well as a link to their privacy policies. It’s unlikely that opting out will be a one-time exercise; rather, it’s something you’ll need to keep in mind on a regular basis. If you live in the EU, this article explains how to send GDPR erasure requests and provides additional details on unsubscribing from data collection websites.

A company by the name of Brand Yourself searches the databases of significant data brokers for your data and provides you with a report on its whereabouts. This will provide you with a place to start when deciding which data brokers you should avoid.

You typically need to send an email to these sites to opt out of their services. To achieve this, it’s a good idea to make a brand-new, supplemental email account. This will safeguard and shield your primary email account from spam.

You can complain to the appropriate government agency in your nation if you have concerns about how a firm is managing your personal data. This will differ depending on where you are in the world; for instance, the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK.

Follow these steps to safeguard your privacy online

  • To find out what rights you have, familiarise yourself with the laws in your nation or state that govern data privacy.
  • Stay away from sharing private information on social media. Avoid revealing your date of birth online since it is frequently used as a security question or identity.
  • Think about setting your social media accounts to private so that only close relatives and friends can access them.
  • Avoid taking online quizzes and joining online sweepstakes since they frequently collect information about you.
  • Delete any superfluous programs you don’t use and stay away from downloading hazardous apps from dubious sources.
  • Make sure you only have the fewest possible internet accounts and only those that you actually use.
  • Avoid opening unknown emails.
  • Use a web browser with tracker- and ad-blocking software to prevent tracking.

Conclusion

Since the GDPR came into effect in 2018, data broking has been under scrutiny, and if they wish to avoid facing harsh fines and data-breach investigations, data broking companies must be more cautious in their activities. An illustration of this is the recent $57 million fine levied against Google by the French privacy regulator CNIL for failing to comply with EU data protection laws.

Additionally, formal complaints under the GDPR were made against several of the largest ad-tech firms, including Criteo, Quantcast, and Tapad, as well as the credit reporting agencies Equifax and Experian, by the UK non-profit Privacy International last year.

However, this does not imply that users should feel fully secure because nobody who uses the internet will ever be. Right now, using common sense is the best action you can take. Avoid providing your personal information to dubious websites, read permission forms as much as you can, and exercise greater caution while utilizing free services, we hope you liked our article which was on What are data brokers and how they sell your data.

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