I’ve focused the snippets below on paragraphs that focus on specific companies:
The largest data broker is Acxiom, a marketing giant that brags it has, on average, 1,500 pieces of information on more than 200 million Americans.It’s much harder for Americans to get information on Acxiom. The company declined our request for an interview and is fairly vague about the methods it uses to collect information and who its customers are.
We were able to go online and find all sorts of companies peddling sensitive personalized information. A Connecticut data broker called “Statlistics” advertises lists of gay and lesbian adults and “Response Solutions” — people suffering from bipolar disorder.
“Paramount Lists” operates out of this building in Erie, Pa., and offers lists of people with alcohol, sexual and gambling addictions and people desperate to get out of debt.
A Chicago company, “Exact Data,” is brokering the names of people who had a sexually transmitted disease, as well as lists of people who have purchased adult material and sex toys.
That data becomes much more valuable when it’s married up to the much more personal information that’s being volunteered on the Internet. “Take 5 Solutions,” a data broker in Boca Raton, Fla., runs 17 websites like “GoodParentingToday.com” and “T5 HealthyLiving.Com,” where people can share stories about their families and health. What web visitors don’t realize is that “Take 5’s” real business is collecting and selling the information.