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How to keep your data from brokers and marketers

Fast Company: “It’s no secret that private intel companies compile vast dossiers on us. But the extent is breathtaking. Here’s how it works—and what you can do about it. We’ve seen a stream of revelations about data brokers in recent months, and though the stories vary, the takeaway is consistent: Our privacy has never been more vulnerable. In May, Vice found that data brokers have been collecting and selling location information of people visiting abortion clinics. That same month, Human Rights Watch revealed that most edtech companies are collecting information on children. And earlier this year, comedian John Oliver famously showed how easy it is to target and compile embarrassing information on members of Congress. Even a conservative estimate by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse puts the number of data brokers in the U.S. at over 500. And the information they collect is vast, although details about it are scarce. In a 2014 article in MediaPost, an executive at one of the largest data brokers, Acxiom, said that, “For every consumer we have more than 5,000 attributes of customer data.” Experts say there is virtually no regulation of this data collection industry in the U.S. “Within the law, anyone could be doing pretty much anything with your data,” says Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “And they don’t have to tell anyone about it.” There are, however, ways to fight back against data tracking. The first step is knowing how—and where—you’re being tracked….”

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