Tag Archives: Acxiom

StopDataMining.me is Featured on Lifehacker.com

Here at StopDataMining.me, we’ve been working hard to build tools that help consumers control the monetization of their private information. And now we’ve received coverage from the editors at Lifehacker.com!

In “The Top 50 Companies that Mine and Sell Your Data (and How to Opt Out)”, Lifehacker.com author Melanie Pinola compliments our efforts to build a central “data mining opt-out” resource for consumers, writing,

“We all know that our personal data is very valuable to marketers and other agencies—and that it’s collected and sold by data brokers. StopDataMining.me is a master list of opt-out links to stop these data brokers from collecting information about your online and offline activities.

The list is comprehensive. Hit up StopDataMining.me to get your personal information removed from these data resellers.”

StopDataMining.me is a centralized online portal for data brokers to (1) identify themselves to consumers and describe how they collect and use consumer data and (2) detail the access rights and other choices they provide with respect to the consumer data they maintain.

The Federal Trade Commission report “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability” discovered that data broker companies collect and store billions of data elements covering nearly every U.S. consumer. For example, a single data broker company, Acxiom, holds information on more than 1.4 billion consumer transactions and 700 billion data elements. In addition, Acxiom adds more than 3 billion new data points to its database each month.

“The extent of consumer profiling today means that data brokers often know as much – or even more – about us than our family and friends, including our online and in-store purchases, our political and religious affiliations, our income and socioeconomic status, and more,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “It’s time to bring transparency and accountability to bear on this industry on behalf of consumers, many of whom are unaware that data brokers even exist.” To the extent data brokers currently offer consumers choices about their data, the choices are largely invisible and incomplete. Continue Reading →

Data Broker Acxiom Offers Consumers a Peek Behind the Curtain

Acxiom, one of the most secretive and prolific collectors of consumer information, is embarking on a novel public relations strategy: openness. On September 4, 2013, it plans to unveil a free Web site where United States consumers can view some of the information the company has collected about them.

With about $1.1 billion in revenue in its 2013 fiscal year, Acxiom is a leading player in an industry called data brokerage. The company collects, stores, analyzes and sells consumer data with the aim of helping its clients — including well-known banks, credit card issuers, insurance companies, department stores and carmakers — tailor marketing to their most valuable current customers or identify new customers.

The data on the site, called AbouttheData.com, includes biographical facts, like education level, marital status and number of children in a household; homeownership status, including mortgage amount and property size; vehicle details, like the make, model and year; and economic data, like whether a household member is an active investor with a portfolio greater than $150,000. Also available will be the consumer’s recent purchase categories, like plus-size clothing or sports products; and household interests like golf, dogs, text-messaging, cholesterol-related products or charities.

Each entry comes with an icon that visitors can click to learn about the sources behind the data — whether self-reported consumer surveys, warranty registrations or public records like voter files. The program also lets people correct or suppress individual data elements, or to opt out entirely of having Acxiom collect and store marketing data about them. Visitors who log in may be surprised at the volume of information that may be available and the detailed picture it can give of their personal lives.

Even so, Aboutthedata.com is a self-serving endeavor, promoting Acxiom’s take on data-powered marketing to consumers. Although the site shows visitors a few facts that some might consider sensitive, like race and ethnicity, it initially omits intimate references — like “gambling,” “senior needs,” “smoker in the household” and “adult with wealthy parent” — that Acxiom markets to corporate clients but that might discomfit consumers if they knew they were for sale. (Acxiom said that the site includes the “core” facts it has collected about consumers, but that it might add “derived” data, like propensity for gambling, at a later date.)

This kind of anodyne presentation of data-mining, says Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, could prompt people to collude in their own surveillance by perfecting their profiles. That would improve the quality and resale value of the data for Acxiom, he says, perhaps to consumers’ detriment.

Continue Reading →