Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), co-Chairs of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, released the following statements today after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued orders requiring nine data broker companies to provide the Commission with information about how they collect and use data about consumers. Last week, Reps. Markey and Barton hosted a Privacy Caucus briefing with FTC Chairman Leibowitz and Commissioner Julie Brill, privacy advocates, representatives from seven major data broker companies, and the Direct Marketing Association. The briefing followed the companies' responses to a July query from a group of bipartisan lawmakers led by Reps. Markey and Barton to respond to questions about each company's business practices and whether and how each company collects, assembles and sells consumer information to third parties.
"Today's announcement of a study into the practices of data brokers, makes clear that FTC stands for "For The Consumer'," said Rep. Markey. "Chairman Leibowitz and the FTC are to be commended for working to shine a light on an industry that impacts millions of Americans. Many data brokerage companies are engaging in business practices without consumer knowledge or consent -- including the collection, use, and sale of personal information about the American public. It's critical to bring data brokers out from the shadows and shed light on this omnipresent industry in order to develop a system of oversight and rules that fosters consumers' control over their personal information. I applaud the FTC for its leadership on this issue, and look forward to the responses from the companies and working with them to learn more about how this industry operates."
"I would like to applaud the FTC in their efforts to shine light on the data brokerage industry," said Rep. Barton. "I strongly believe that consumers should have access to and control of their personal information on all fronts, especially with companies that collect and sell user data. It is appalling that these companies can still freely use personal information such as a user's full name, home address, social security number, telephone number, and even birth date at their discretion. It is time that Congress carefully considers this industry and the potential dangers that exists. I look forward to the study and the recommendations to be given by the FTC and hope to use this information to work with my colleagues on how we should move forward in Congress."