Rockefeller, Markey Introduce Data Broker Bill

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) have introduced a bill that would require data brokers to be transparent about how they collect information and be accountable for it.

The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) would prohibit brokers from being deceptive in their collection of data, would empower consumers to access and correct their information, and opt out of having their data collected and sold for marketing purposes.

The Federal Trade Commission would also be given civil penalty authority to enforce the law. “Consumers deserve to know what information about their personal lives is being collected and sold to marketers by data brokers,” said Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

“The data broker industry has for too longer operated in the shadows, compiling dossiers on millions of Americans. It is time to shine a light on this industry," said Markey.

Rockefeller last month introduced the Data Security and Breach Notification Act (S. 1976), which would require companies to notify consumers about data breaches.

He has long been concerned about information collected online and used to build profiles of Web users for marketing purposes. That includes holding a hearing on brokers in December where the industry faced some tough questions from Rockefeller and others.

The committee released a report in advance of the hearing that stemmed from a Rockefeller-led investigation into the industry that found that they operated behind a veil of secrecy and with little federal regulation to constrain them as they provide info to clients, including most of the top media/telecom companies.

A copy of the bill is available here.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.