You may remember earlier this fall when Facebook’s new partnership with data broker Datalogix spurred privacy advocates to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Now it looks like Datalogix, along with eight other data brokers, will be going under the agency’s microscope. [More]
“In response to consumer feedback,” Inteliius says it will discontinue selling your private cellphone number in its searchable online database. Liz Murray, Communications Manager at Intelius in a press release that, besides trying to explain away their actions, also spent half of its time touting the company’s Cell Phone Caller ID program, said, “As a company, we have strived to be at the forefront of innovation…We realize that in this instance we may have been ahead of our time.” That’s right, it was a notion from some future time where mankind has evolved into a more advanced being that doesn’t care about its privacy. Despite the press release, as of this writing, the company is still advertising the cell phone directory on its site.
How did Intelius compile its directory of people’s private cellphone numbers it now has for sale online? Laws on the books forbid telelphone companies from amassing cell phone directories without customer’s consent, but the laws don’t mention third parties. Instead, Intelius buys them from your friendly, local pizza delivery place. Here’s what the CEO said when asked how people end up in their system: “Geez, [there are] tons of ways — everything from going out to a Web site and buying a ring tone for your phone to putting your phone number down at anything [like] ordering a pizza…There are literally dozens and dozens of ways that a user or a consumer could opt in to a database.” See, it’s legal for businesses to contact you you have business relationship. But companies are turning around and selling these customer databases to places like Intelius, and transferring the right to use the database to these third parties as well. While you’re taking a bite out of that deep-dish, they’re taking a bite out of your privacy.
If you thought your cellphone number was safe, think again. Intellus just launched the first ever online cellphone directory. Oh, you never gave them permission, they went ahead and scraped the internet, bought lists from data resellers and deployed data mining techniques.