Many believe that the reason behind the identity theft crisis is the irresponsible data mining and selling of people’s personal and financial information. This information then gets stored in places, where it is obtained (bought or stolen) by people, who have more than a “marketing” interest in it.

The buying and selling of people’s personal information is a multi-billion dollar business.

Given this, a lot of people and consumer groups now are questioning how this done and how the information is protected.

CALPIRG, the California Public Interest Research Group has just released an “interesting” report on this subject and is making some recommendations to the California legislature to make the practice of buying and selling people’s personal information more transparent.

From the press release on the CALPIRG site:

California’s consumers are “Still in the Dark” when it comes to who has access to their personal information according to a privacy report released today by the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG).

“This holiday shopping season millions of consumers surrendered their personal information to retailers across the country with no idea how or with whom that information is shared” said Pedro Morillas, CALPIRG Consumer Advocate. “Fortunately there is light at the end of the tunnel. California already has some good policies regarding this issue. A few additions to the existing policies will give consumers the tools they need to safeguard their personal information.”

Currently, California law requires that if a consumer requests to find out where their information went a company must reveal where the information went for the past calendar year, or provide a no cost “opt-out” opportunity.

The report — which includes a survey of customers trying to to discover where their information went — revealed that over one-third of the requests were ignored.

Even worse, in addition to not getting a response, many of the customers were given the run around by being sent to other places within an organization or getting responses that had nothing to do with their original request.

CALPIRG is now calling that the California Legislature make the laws stronger with additional measures. They are calling out that the following additions should be made to existing laws:

Companies that do business with California consumers to respond to privacy requests, regardless of whether they share information with third parties.

Companies to both disclose the personal informa¬tion shared, and the third parties with which it is shared, and provide consumers with an opportunity to opt out of future sharing.

Companies to place a box on their Web sites’ privacy pages allowing consumers to opt out of information sharing.

Companies to get an affirmative “opt-in” from consumers before sharing their information with third parties, as opposed to the current practice of requiring consumers to opt out in order to protect their privacy.

The full report from CALPIRG can be read, here.

Opting out and privacy notices with an abundance of fine print have been criticized as not being effective, or consumer friendly for awhile now. Here are two other posts, I’ve written on this subject:

How does a telemarketer get your unlisted number?

Not answering a Privacy Notice gives the sender permission to sell your personal/financial information

Be Sociable, Share!