Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) has
expanded his investigation into data brokers collection and sale of online
information, sending letters to a sampling of a dozen sites that are
"among the most popular online sources of advice and information on health,
family, and personal finance issues," which he says might collect detailed
or sensitive health or financial information.
In the letter Tuesday to Conde Nast Publications regarding
its self.com site--the letter Rockefeller linked to
in a release on the letters sent by his office--the senator said that data
brokers he had contacted as part of an investigation that began last fall had
refused to identify sources of consumer information, saying with regard to
consumer-facing Web sites that it generally obtained it from surveys,
questionnaire and sweepstakes.
He points out that self.com invites consumers to provide personal
info related to surveys and sweepstakes; he also points out that its privacy
policy allows for sharing with third parties. He wants to know whether that
policy allows for sharing of that personal info with third parties.
Rockefeller said he
also wants to find out how data brokers put online consumers in categories like
"rural and barely making it" and "ethnic second-city
strugglers" for marketing purposes.
Among the questions
Rockefeller wants Conde Nast and others to answer by Oct. 11 includes whether their company: 1)
collects personally identifiable health, family financial or other records; 2)
shares that personally identifiable info with third parties; and 3) allows
third parties to directly collect info.
In addition to self.com, letters went
to About.com, Health.com (Time Inc.), Bankrate.com, Realage.com (Sharecare
Inc.), Cafemom.com, Fool.com (The Motley Fool), Finance.youngmoney.com (Young Money LLC), Mensfitness.com
(Galvanized Brands LLC), Investopedia.com (ValueClick Brands), Ehealthforum.com
(Internet Brands), and Babycenter.com.
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.
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