Businesses want your personal information. It’s a common concern in the modern era, with brands worldwide prepared to pay good money for your personal data.
This movement has given rise to data brokers – an individual or company that collects mass public data. Coveting anything from user statistics to company data and social media analytics, data brokers have changed the way information is collected, used, and sold.
What are Data Brokers?
When data brokers first started, they collected information, such as your:
- Identity (name, gender, date of birth, marital status, occupation)
- Postal address and contact information (telephone and email)
- Financial background
Generally, the aim was to use this information to tailor content for individual profiles.
For example, a cruise company might want to target financially well-off pensioners. With this right to personal information, launching a marketing campaign for this target market becomes possible. And the results they can expect from a targeted campaign would be better.
Fast-forward to the present day and this list is drastically extended. Companies can now analyze your shopping habits, engagement levels, culture, and behavior – and use your data to manipulate the market and gain a financial advantage.
For example, Facebook data was harvested for 87 million people in the Cambridge Analytica breach, which was then used for advertising during elections.
The Influence of the Data Broker
The influence of the data broker has been explosive in recent years. They continue to threaten user privacy by aggregating, processing, and licensing personal information to marketers. In fact, 81% of users say the potential risks of companies collecting data outweigh the benefits.
Data brokers continuously bear the brunt of public outcry, and it’s easy to see why. With apps tracking our every move, monitoring spending habits, and tailoring our content, is it any surprise why people think personal data is less secure than ever?
Think of the last time you filled in an application on a company website and received an influx of spam emails shortly after. When this happens, your first-party data has already been sold to third-party companies for profit. It happens this fast.
Your personal data is valuable to data brokers, as data has value. It can be used and sold for financial gain. Also, there are potential risks associated with the selling of data to third-party companies. Privacy invasion and security breaches are common concerns for many, as they pose severe threats to the community.
What can I do?
Luckily there are actions you can take to prevent companies from collecting and selling your information. Firstly, be vigilant when sharing your information. Whenever you’re asked to provide your personal details, check whether it is necessary and whether you trust the company or not.
In addition, The Washington Post suggests opting out of data broker lists to help prevent external access.
If you are serious about the security of your personal data, start removing your info from the internet and consider a fully automated data removal service.
What can we expect in the future?
The widespread use of data brokers is ever-increasing and shows little sign of slowing down. Sadly, it’s a staple of modern capitalism.
The global data broker market was valued at $232 billion in 2019. This is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.80% to reach a whopping US$345 billion by 2026. It has never been more important to protect personal data – and the situation is going to escalate.