Watchdogs Seek FTC Scrutiny Of 'Big Data' Consolidation

Late last year, when Oracle announced it had reached a deal to purchase Datalogix, a targeting shop known for connecting offline purchases to online ads, some privacy advocates quickly raised the alarm.

“Through the data it gathers on what we buy, and with its relationship with Facebook and other powerful marketers, Datalogix consists of a online treasure trove of data on Americans,” Center for Digital Democracy Executive Director Jeff Chester said at the time. Chester called on the Federal Trade Commission to examine the deal's impact on people's privacy -- noting that the merger was coming within one year of Oracle's purchase of the ad tech company BlueKai, which aims to personalize ads based on users' Web activity.

Despite the advocates' concerns, the Department of Justice approved the $1.2 billion-plus deal in mid-January.

Now, the Center for Digital Democracy and other organizations -- Public Citizen, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Consumer Watchdog -- say the FTC should investigate the growth in “data-oriented mergers.”



“The Oracle/Datalogix transaction involved the merging of far-reaching and powerful datasets and applications across key offline and online markets, including financial, retail, auto sales, grocery, and other major sectors,” the organizations write today to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “It illustrates the crosscutting dimensions of the contemporary 'Big Data' digital marketplace, where competition and consumer-protection issues are intertwined.”

The groups argue that the FTC should be “more proactively involved” when it comes to reviewing mergers between companies that hold data about consumers. The organizations also are asking the agency to investigate how consolidation affects consumers, and to hold address questions about “data-driven marketing” at a public workshop.

They state: “Given the profound changes underway on how Americans learn about, shop, and pay for everyday products ... the commission’s investigation should help the public better understand the implications for their daily lives of these major marketplace developments.”

2 comments about "Watchdogs Seek FTC Scrutiny Of 'Big Data' Consolidation ".
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  1. Steve MC from GRUNI , February 7, 2015 at 4:45 p.m.

    Thanks, Wendy. I'm sure the FTC will look the other way. So few US consumers give a damn. Give them something for free and they'll ignore future costs, like invasion of privacy. If only consumers monetized their personal information and online behavior. The landscape would be very different.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 9, 2015 at 10:39 a.m.

    This article ties in with another on MediaPost today from Bob Garfield, Will Your Thermostat Destroy Your Life? It Might. It Just Might and Shelly Palmer's The Emperor of the Internet. Whoever privately controls the media, economy and energy will be the one(s) who control you. War to win comes in many forms and does not have to be in one fell swoop. Check out the stockholders of these companies. They may have full connections through proxies and shell corporations if not just outright percentages.

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