Data brokers and your Child’s information
by Trip Elix
The high school graduation classes of 2015 denoted a very special group of students. It is not a secret that data is collected on millions of Americans. In the era of big data, this class represents the first class to be tracked completely though the high school process. Big data is a term that many people have heard of but many don’t understand. The core of its use ideally is as a psychological examination of each individual it contains.
Information is analyzed to predict accurately, feeling or motivation and probability. Often an inference is made from the collected data. This is true only if enough data is present and correctly correlated. This year’s graduating class is very important. The data represents the true insight into each student. The required testing of students is the backbone of our current society. Each child represents a wealth of information.
Testing is not new college admission testing has existed for decades. In the digital society we live in very little information is totally erased. Access to student data is restricted in some states and at the Federal level until the student reaches 18. The information then becomes the responsibility of each student. The data about each child exists in several places, where they went to school, the state that they live in and at the Federal level. There is also data held at various private companies that administer tests and compile results. Some of this information is deleted and some of it goes on for alternative uses.
Part of the information is automatically exempted by legal restriction. It is called directory information and contains the student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them.
Manipulation and understanding motivational principles can be used for a positive purposes such as education. Outside of education the data faces an inherent danger.
The predator in the electronic age is the data broker. These companies systematically turn bits of our activities into profit centers of exploitation.The industries members are masters of deceptive practices and collect the movements, purchases and personal connections on over 213 million Americans. While the larger entities may look and act like the rest of corporate America. The majority are more like street hustlers with computers and your private information.
The information has a wide variety of uses including but not limited to political policy, insurance, credit acceptance, interest rates and employment decisions. It does this while convincing the population that its actual purpose is really about inventory levels of your favorite breakfast cereal.
Most people have no idea that their information is being collected and increasingly used against them. Big data is also present within the general public. Police and government use big data to predict behavior of criminal suspects and to identity anti social behavior. While this may frighten some and it should, the data brokers with billions in profits each year use big data for other purposes.
One example is called a pseudo credit report. These reports are cheaper than the traditional regulated credit reports and contain a wide array of other information including online activities from shopping habits to game playing actions. These reports are not regulated and have no way of identifying erroneous information. The regulated credit system itself is under siege. Millions of dollars in advertising are being spent to reinforce the credit score system sold by the regulated credit reporting systems. Television, radio and print advertisements for Fico® are being done to provide consumers with brand awareness.
The regulated credit reporting industry are also data brokers and invented the practice of collecting and selling information about consumers. Regulation on the industry only covers dissemination of information it does-not cover what is collected.
Most data brokers hide who they are and what they do from the general public. An example of this is the over 400 websites that exist on the internet that sell private information. Some of these sell background and criminal association information. More than often this information is incorrect and is unreliable.
My book ”A Right to Property, Its your information” contains more details about the credit system, criminal background checks and other things that impact our daily lives.