What are Data Brokers and What do they Mean for You?

We have discussed in detail in the past why and how your online privacy is at risk. If you are not careful, everything you do online is tracked and can be used to target you. A common question that people have is where does this data go, and who collects it? There is a simple answer to this – data brokers.

What are data brokers?

A business that aggregates information from a variety of sources; processes it to enrich, cleanse or analyse it; and licenses it to other organisations.

Data Broker

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A data broker is defined as “a business that aggregates information from a variety of sources; processes it to enrich, cleanse or analyse it; and licenses it to other organisations”. This doesn’t sound awful on the surface, but when you dig deeper, the real dark side of this industry is shown. Data brokers claim that they sell your information in an anonymous way, but this has been proved time and time again that this is not the case. John Oliver discusses data brokers in the below video that explains this perfectly:

How data brokers collect your information

Your data is collected by brokers in an array of different ways online.

  • Mobile Apps:

Each app you download is different and will take information from your “mobile advertising identifier” (a unique ID that is specific to the device you are using). For example, one app may take just your name, whilst another could take your phone number and email address.

  • Harvesting/Scraping Social Media Profiles:

Many people are guilty of oversharing on social media, and data brokers take advantage of this by utilising automated bot software that copies all information on your public profile.

  • Browser Cookies:

Every time you browse the internet, your activity online is tracked through cookies (not the nice kind!). These cookies are the reason why you see online advertising that is catered specifically for you.

What information data brokers can collect from you

Basically, anything and everything. Data brokers can collect your information from any form of data point, from general ones such as email addresses to private information including court records. In the past, data brokers have even accessed and sold information on rape victims and alcoholics. They do not care what data they can get, as long as they can sell it.

The sheer amount of data that could potentially be sold about you is scary, and you need to be aware of them.

How data brokers use your data

Data brokers exist for profit, and make a living off collecting, aggregating, and selling your personal information to other companies. When sold on, companies will then use this information and create targeted marketing campaigns which will then be highly tailored to the individual. Therefore, you get the feeling that everything is listening to you online! (Because they are).

How to prevent data brokers from accessing your data

You may be thinking, “this surely can’t be legal?”, but unfortunately it is. The best thing you can do is to protect yourself as best you can to minimise what data they get from you.

  • Avoid posting personal information online where you can
  • Do not open or download anything that seems risky at all. This can include emails and applications.
  • Delete any apps that you do not use anymore (they still track!)

You can also download the FREE Revoke App and take control of your data before a data broker does so. By using our app, you can ensure that your data stays safe!

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Start protecting yourself with Revoke, and take back control of your personal data.

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