The New York Times reports that a bipartisan Congressional panel will open an inquiry into the data brokerage industry, and Little Rock-based Acxiom is one of the targets of the effort.
From the New York Times:
In a move that could lay bare the inner workings of the consumer data industry, eight members of Congress have opened a sweeping investigation into data brokers — companies that collect, collate, analyze and sell billions of details annually about consumers’ offline, online and mobile activities for marketing and other purposes.
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas, co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, along with six other lawmakers, sent letters of inquiry on Tuesday afternoon to nine leading industry players. In the letters, the legislators requested extensive information about how the companies amass, refine, sell and share consumer data.
Data brokers often collect details about people’s financial, retail and recreational activities to help clients like airlines, automakers, banks, credit card issuers and retailers retain their best customers and woo new ones.
The letter’s recipients included marketing services firms like Acxiom and Epsilon; consumer reporting agencies like Experian and Equifax, which have separate credit reporting and consumer analytics divisions; Fair Isaac, now known as FICO, the credit scoring services company; and Intelius, a company that offers reverse phone look-up and background check services. The letter gave the companies three wee
ks to respond.
At least one member of the committee, Markey, said he wants to consider if laws regulating the industry are needed.
Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, the chief privacy officer of Acxiom, told the Times that company executives had testified before Congress previously on the topic.
“We are happy to provide whatever information we can to further inform interested parties,” Barrett said.
You can read more here.
UPDATE: Acxiom Corp. Public Relations manager Jonathan Portis sends this statement along in response to the NYT article:
We appreciate that many people want to know more about our business. We have long worked in the legislative and regulatory arena and with consumer groups to further inform interested parties.
The Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus has asked us detailed questions about our business. We are delighted to help them understand our company, and the industry we serve better.
Moreover, we are committed to increasing awareness in general. For example, we recently updated our web site to answer common questions about our use of data. At the site, people can also enter their own questions and we’ll answer those too.
We look forward to being an active participant in this important discussion.