Senate bill seeks to increase accountability of data brokers

Democratic Senators introduced a bill to increase accountability and enhance transparency on data brokers like Equifax that collect and sell personal information about consumers.

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The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act would prohibit data brokers from engaging in discriminatory data use practices and give consumers the right to stop them from sharing their personal information for marketing purposes. It also requires data brokers to develop privacy and data security programs and procedures. Further, it empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create a centralized website for consumers to view a list of data brokers and information regarding consumer rights.

“For too long, data brokers have profited off of our personal information at the expense of our privacy,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), one of the bill’s sponsors, said. “Companies, which American consumers have never heard of, continue to play fast and loose with our data, and our laws have failed to keep pace with this industry’s bad behavior. As the recent Equifax settlement made clear, we need strong, enforceable rules of the road to hold data brokers accountable and empower consumers. I thank Senator Blumenthal and Senator Smith for partnering with me on the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act.”

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tina Smith (D-MN) also sponsored the bill.

“Companies like Equifax have gotten away with their reckless handling and selling of personal consumer information,” Blumenthal said. “Congress must put power back in the hands of American consumers. This common-sense bill ensures that all Americans have a right to know if their personal data has been exploited or contains errors, and holds data brokers accountable for their shameless privacy and security violations.”