Who Oversees Data Brokers Selling Personal Info? No One

You probably already know that you have precious little privacy, and that shadowy data brokers have built the buying and selling of people’s personal information into a multibillion-dollar industry.

But did you know this: Nobody knows how many so-called list owners and list brokers are operating nationwide. The best guess is tens of thousands.

Or this: These businesses operate largely unregulated, overseen day to day by no official authority.

And if they get things wrong — that is, if there’s ever need to correct files as a result of a death, divorce or similarly life-changing event — there’s pretty much nothing you can do to hold these firms accountable.

Federal regulators find this just as frustrating as consumers.

“We think there is a real problem with the lack of transparency in the data-broker industry,” said Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s division of privacy and identity protection.


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