The thing about any kind of information placed on the internet is this – you can never be sure that it is 100% secure. Same applies to the personal information of more than a billion users placed across multiple social media sites. Apparently, some companies actually collect this info and then sell it to other companies and federal agencies.
We live in a highly connected digital age today where a vast majority of the world’s population is hooked up to the internet. This majority has multiple user accounts online, uses a number of services and engages in frequent interactions.
This inevitably leads the users to divulge their personal information and preferences online, data which is vitally important to many entities around the globe. Corporate entities want this data to focus their marketing more effectively, governments want it out of a natural curiosity to stay informed of everything, and hackers may seek it to perpetuate illegal activities.
Interestingly, there are companies out there which specialize in collecting such data. For instance, if they are tasked with gathering data about you, they would get information about you from your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles and then ravage the internet to dig out further information from sources such as Blogspot, WordPress, YouTube etc.
In other words, if you ever placed a trace of information related to you on the web, these companies would be able to find it. And then, they will sell it to the client who required this information. Acxicom is one such company which gathers user intel for different clients.
According to Acxicom, it gathers this information simply to build consumers profiles for corporate entities who can then target the appropriate audience. However, such data collection business sounds quite shady and for this reason, Congress recently asked nine such firms to reveal their activities.
Acxicom was among these nine firms and in its responses, it stated that its clientele includes 47 Fortune 100 companies, 5 of the top 10 retailers, 8 of the top 10 credit card issuers, 7 of the top ten telecom companies, 6 of the top ten technology companies and a whole lot more. Its client list also includes 5 of the 13 largest U.S. federal government agencies and both major national political parties in the U.S.
You can read the detailed response from Acxicom here. These revelations go on to show just how vulnerable our data is, when placed anywhere online. In a forthcoming post, I will elaborate on how best to guard your online profiles from such companies who seek to collect and sell your data.