Equifax Sale of Personal Data to End: Government Can Still Buy Americans’ Information from Data Brokers
You are probably not aware that when you sign up for water, power or some other utility, your name, home address, Social Security number and other personal information can be bought and sold. Not only can your “utility header data” be sold for commercial use. It can also be sold to private investigators and government intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Today, a glimmer of good news came when the National Consumer Telecom & Utility Exchange (NCTUE) agreed to end the sale of the personal data of 170 million people. This exchange has directed the credit bureau, Equifax, to stop selling this data.
NCTUE’s move was undertaken after pressure from civil liberties organizations concerned that intelligence agencies and law enforcement are accessing Americans’ personal digital information by buying it from data brokers. Agencies ranging from the Drug Enforcement Administration, to the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security are reported to be getting around the constitutional requirement for a warrant through these purchases.
“The personal privacy of hundreds of millions of people should not depend upon the goodwill of corporations worried about negative headlines,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement. There are still innumerable sources of personal data from apps, the cloud and digital devices for the government to exploit.
Concerned that so much of our personal data can still be easily acquired by the government, Sen. Wyden and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) are sponsoring The Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act. This legislation would close the loophole in pre-digital law that allows such purchases.