The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller IV (D.-W.Va.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), aims to impose restrictions on how data brokers collect and manage information about consumers. The bill prohibits data brokers from tricking people into providing information. It also gives consumers the right to correct mistakes in their data and opt out of the use of their data for marketing purposes.
“The data broker industry has for too longer operated in the shadows, compiling dossiers on millions of Americans” Markey said in a statement. “It is time to shine a light on this industry, and Chairman Rockefeller’s legislation helps put in place a system of rules that puts consumers in control of their information.”
The Direct Marketing Association says it opposes the bill. “Unnecessary legislation that stops the responsible exchange of data would hurt consumers by limiting choices and raising prices” the group said in a statement this week.
The DMA has previously expressed concerns that any attempt to regulate data brokers would affect a wide swath of companies. The bill itself defines data brokers as companies that collect personal information about people who are not customers, in order to sell that data to other companies.
The bill comes about two months after Rockefeller slammed the data broker industry at a hearing. At the time the lawmaker said he was “revolted” when data brokers offer to sell lists of vulnerable groups, like “genetic disease sufferers,” or “payday loan responders.” Such classifications he said, “seem tailor made to businesses that seek to take advantage of consumers.”