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Exclusive: Advocates push for data broker "do not call" registry

Mar 26, 2024
Illustration of two pointing hand cursors making an "X" sign out of the fingers.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Human rights groups on Wednesday will launch a petition to pressure the Federal Trade Commission to empower Americans to stop data brokers from selling their personal data.

Why it matters: Advocates say going after data brokers is one of the most effective ways to protect Americans' sensitive information in a country where there is no federal privacy law.

  • Data brokers have long collected and sold personally identifiable information like home addresses and phone numbers without Americans' consent for targeted advertising and other purposes.

A coalition of more than 20 human rights groups led by Fight for the Future is backing the petition for a national data broker do not call registry, according to a press release shared first with Axios.

  • "Data brokers are set to profit from fueling supercharged AI scams that use private personal information to harm all of us, but especially veterans, the elderly, abuse survivors, civil servants, journalists, and activists," Fight for the Future's Lia Holland said in the press release.

Threat level: Americans are vulnerable to hacking, harassment and other harms when troves of their data is collected and sold online.

  • The proliferation of AI systems is increasing demand for that data and making the data broker business even more lucrative.

Zoom in: The groups want the federal government to follow California's lead.

  • The California Delete Act will allow people to easily and quickly opt out of data brokers collecting their information, but that won't go into effect until 2026.

Catch up quick: The FTC has been cracking down on data brokers, suing and imposing fines on companies for allegedly misleading users and putting them in dangerous situations.

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