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data broker (information broker)

A data broker, also called an information broker or information reseller, is a business that collects personal information about consumers and sells that information to other organizations.

Data brokers can collect information about consumers from a variety of public and non-public sources including courthouse records, website cookies and loyalty card programs. Typically, brokers create profiles of individuals for marketing purposes and sell them to businesses who want to target their advertisements and special offers.

Currently, there is no legislation that requires a data broker to share the information they have gathered with the consumers they have profiled. In an effort to provide transparency, however, the data broker Acxiom has created a web site called Aboutthedata.com. The site allows consumers to register, see what information Acxiom has collected about them and correct data that is wrong. Critics maintain that the website is just another way for the company to gather more data.

Data brokers may refer to themselves as being database marketers or consumer data analytics firms.  

This was last updated in September 2013

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