2013 Archives

Watchdog: How a data broker pretends to share its information about you

Excerpt

The following ran in the Sept. 21, 2013, edition of the Dallas Morning News. Computer science engineer Suku Nair provided expertise for this story.

September 25, 2013

By Dave Lieber

An Arkansas company that collects information about us and then resells it to banks, retailers, insurance companies and others for a billion dollars a year in sales almost pulled a fast one on The Watchdog.

I was excited about the release of personal data by Acxiom on its free new website. I couldn’t wait to show you how to access your data so you can see what secrets a big-time data broker knows about you.

Great story: Your personal information released for the first time in history. What Big Brother keeps in his file.

Then I studied why Acxiom did this. On the surface, the idea is that a watchdog columnist like me would brag on this new website. Wow. Cool. No corporate data broker ever did this before. How can you not respect Acxiom for being so transparent and revolutionary in the way it is suddenly treating us Americans?

You know, it almost worked.

A few things killed the positive vibe....

I showed the AboutTheData.com website to Suku Nair, chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Southern Methodist University. He’s not impressed....