Data Brokers, Transparency, and the Future of our Private Identities: Part 2 of 2

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the Future of our Private IdentitiesAs I mentioned in part 1 of this post, Acxiom has launched a website called AbouttheData.com, which allows consumers to see exactly what information Axiom has compiled on them.

Acxiom, one of the top data brokers in the country, is in business to research publicly held information, gather data about you, and then sell this to advertisers. And business is booming: Acxiom made well over a billion dollars in profits last year. So I was curious as to what exactly Acxiom would reveal about the information they had collected on me.

My Experience with AbouttheData.com

After I logged into AbouttheData.com and was given access to the information that Acxiom had collected on me, my response was underwhelming.

They only revealed a surprisingly small amount of data. This included my age, gender, income, education level, marriage status, political affiliation, and occupation.

But they did not have what I would consider basic information on me, including information about my home and car. This should be easy for them to find and valuable to marketers who want this information.

They had listed a few of my purchases, but only a very small sample: 6 offline purchases and 9 online. Since I use my credit cards all the time, I would have expected them to know a lot more about the purchases I made. This included electronic products, kitchen tools, pet products, and children’s toys.

This is obviously not a complete picture. This information also contained one inaccuracy about where I shop.

I suspect that Acxiom knows more about me than what they are allowing me to see. Or perhaps their competitors know more about me. As it is, I am surprised that the information they showed me is far less than what other paid information services generally have.

My Conclusions

Of course, the elephant in the room is what is Acxiom not showing me. Acxiom has admitted that they do not show all information they have gathered on consumers on AbouttheData.com. If they have given me access to all this information, it is possible that there is information they have collected on me that I would not want them to have.

But as it is, what Acxiom has collected on me is not that interesting. Or, to put it a different way, not all that threatening. There are far, far worse privacy issues out there than what Acxiom has collected.

 

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Kent Lawson

Kent Lawson is the CEO & Chairman of Private Communications Corporation and creator of its flagship software PRIVATE WiFi. He combined his extensive business and technical experience to develop PRIVATE WiFi in 2010. The software is an easy-to-use Virtual Private Network (VPN) that protects your sensitive personal information whenever you’re connected to a public WiFi network. Follow Kent on Twitter: @KentLawson.