Natasha Singer describes what happens when she tried to learn what information data broker Acxiom holds about her:
But after I filled out an online request form and sent a personal check for $5 to cover the processing fee, the company simply sent me a list of some of my previous residential addresses. In other words, rather than learning the details about myself that marketers might use to profile and judge me, I received information I knew already.
It turns out that Acxiom, based in Little Rock, Ark., furnishes consumers only with data related to risk management, like their own prison records, tax liens, bankruptcy filings and residential histories. For a corporate client, the company is able to match customers by name with, say, the social networks or Internet providers they use, but it does not offer consumers the same information about themselves.
Read more on The New York Times.
The FTC has been pushing for greater transparency and greater consumer control, but Congress has yet to enact any laws requiring compliance.
And no, don’t bother saying “self-regulation.” That ship sunk a loooong time ago.