Sophisticated Semantics: Defining a “Data Broker”

Sophisticated Semantics: Defining a “Data Broker”
Epsilon Corp • April 12th, 2012

We were recently asked a question that many are attempting to understand: what exactly is a data broker?

The reason this question is particularly timely is because the Federal Trade Commission released a report calling for targeted legislation to address how data brokers collect and use consumer information.

The difficulty in defining data broker, according to the DMA’s Linda Woolley, Executive VP of Washington Operations, is, where do you draw the line? “All companies are sharing data in 2012. First parties are now doing the collecting and having third parties crunch the data for them,” explained Linda in BtoB magazine. 

Our very own Don Hinman, VP of Epsilon Targeting, aka “Dr. Data,” recently spoke with Chief Marketer about the report. Don echoes the DMA opinion that the framework fails to provide a clear definition of data brokers. He does support the strengthening of privacy. He agrees with the report’s idea of a centralized website that would educate consumers about the companies that are collecting their data, what data they have and how they use it.

Don sees the report as “the launching point for a dialog between marketers, consumers, the FTC and Congress regarding what might improve.”

We want to get you involved in this dialog. What do you think of the FTC definition of data brokers? How can the industry better self-regulate? What are some effective ways to educate consumers about data collection and data privacy? Tell us in the comments.