If you want to be “creeped out” when it comes to how much personal data is being collected and aggregated about you, read Natasha Singer’s article, “You For Sale: Mapping, and Sharing, the Consumer Genome” which appeared in The New York Times’ Sunday Business section, on June 17th. It’s an exposé of Acxiom. Acxiom and Epsilon are two of the largest data miners and aggregators who mine, aggregate, and sell information about each of us to companies willing to pay for that information.
Singer reports that Acxiom has 1500 data points on 500 million active consumers. These include your income, many details about your health, your food preferences, the current assessed value of your home, your birth date, your race, what stocks/bonds you hold, what you weigh, what movies are in your collection, etc. Acxiom sells this information about you to corporations with whom you already do business as well as to those who want to target market to you. And collecting, mining, and reselling information about each of us—individually, and in aggregate—is perfectly legal…at least in the U.S.:
[In the U.S.,] “such large-scale data mining and analytics—based on information available in public records, consumer surveys and the like—are perfectly legal…In essence, it’s as if the ore of our data-driven lives were being mined, refined and sold to the highest bidder, usually without our knowledge—by companies that most people rarely even know they exist.”
~ Natasha Singer, The New York Times