Navigating the Complexities of Data Privacy in the Age of Data Brokers

Read Time 3 mins | Written by: Intlabs


Billions of dollars

In today's data-driven world, the role of data brokers and the vast exchange of personal information have pushed critical questions about data security and privacy to the forefront of our social and political lives. Whether it’s a massive, multinational company experiencing a data breach, or that same multinational company violating (intentionally or unintentionally) data privacy laws, billions of dollars per year go towards fixing and resolving data security and privacy issues.

Acxiom, a prominent data brokerage firm, and BetterHelp, an online counselling service, recently joined the ranks of companies that have come under fire for their handling of data.

Companies in trouble

Acxiom, as a data broker, is extremely challenged by data privacy laws because their entire business hinges on collecting, aggregating, and selling various forms of personal data, ranging from demographic to sensitive health information. Acxiom recently received a letter from the US Congress expressing concerns about the firm’s treatment of the data in its possession1, because the reality is that Acxiom, like many of its peers, handles massive amounts of sensitive and personal data with often minimal oversight and control. This lack of oversight and control of course leads to data privacy issues as well as potentially punishing data security breaches. Companies like Acxiom need to urgently implement more robust data protection tools and practices.

BetterHelp, on the other hand, was recently fined $7.8 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for sharing users' mental health data with advertising platforms, breaching its promise of confidentiality to users2. This example showcases both:

  1. The relatively immature level of understanding that many companies have when it comes to the handling of data,
  2. The increasingly important issue of transparency, consent, and accountability in data handling.

Transparency and control

In 2014, the FTC published a report in which they called for increased transparency and control for users when it comes to their data. This recommendation is as relevant today as it was then, as we see consumers navigating an increasingly complex web of their own data. Consumers need clarity about how their personal information is used, sold, and shared and current laws, such as HIPAA, provide insufficient protection against the data misuse by brokers.

Where do we come in?

Our mission at Intlabs is to enable customers to give – with ease and confidence – data security and privacy the critical attention that they require to safeguard the business and its customers.

The federated data architecture of our platform, ORIGIN, empowers clients and users to take control of their data, ensuring compliance with privacy laws and the establishment of a culture of transparency and trust within the organization. ORIGIN significantly enhances data governance and privacy by decentralizing data ownership and processing through a data mesh that ensures the responsible and effective handling of sensitive information, in line with local regulations and global ethical standards.

The evolving global landscape of data privacy, highlighted by the challenges surrounding data brokers, requires that we create solutions to make it easier for businesses to make the right choices. Robust data governance is not just a regulatory requirement but a fundamental right of everyone.

At Intlabs, we are dedicated to leading the way in pioneering solutions that enable responsible and ethical data management, that protects and empower users. Learn more about our federated data governance solutions and how we champion data privacy.

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  1. Congress of the United States Committee on Energy and Commerce Letter Acxiom Data Brokers Letter
  2. FTC Gives Final Approval to Order Banning BetterHelp from Sharing Sensitive Health Data for Advertising, Requiring It to Pay $7.8 Million