Who Are Data Brokers and What Are They Doing to Your Data?

Thousands of the biggest data brokers worldwide buy and sell data every day, collecting a tremendous amount of information about everyone, including you. You may not know who these data brokers are, but they know you.

Sounds scary?

But why should it? Aren’t brokers all-around in other industries such as finance and real estate too, dealing with valuable assets such as stocks and property? 

Are you scared because they brokerage or because there isn’t much control or regulation around their activities?

Read on to learn what top data brokers do and everything else about them!

What are Data Brokers Exactly?

Data brokers (data providers, data suppliers, and information brokers) are companies that aggregate data from various online and offline sources. They then process it to cleanse, augment insights, analyze, segment, and license it to other organizations. 

They collect data from various online or offline sources or purchase it from other companies. Data is not sold directly; instead, it’s licensed for a particular period or limited use.

Besides, they can license or enrich other companies’ customer data directly to offer improved results. Data is usually accessible via an API and often involves subscription type contracts. 

How Do Data Brokers Collect Information?

Data brokers gather data from a collection of offline and online sources. Their independent sources incorporate openly accessible data, and their methods can be very tricky, like:

Tracking cookies:

Cookies are little bundles of information that make sites work. However, they exist to do precisely that — pursue you around the web and log your movement.

Browser fingerprinting:

More treacherous than tracking cookies, browser fingerprinting utilizes hidden site contents to recognize your dependence on your program, gadget, time region, favored language, video, sound gear, and considerably more granular details. Fingerprinting can pursue you around the web in any event, when you’re not signed in or are utilizing Incognito mode. 

Web and email reference points:

Web signals are minuscule, single-pixel pictures that track customer journey on sites, messages, and elsewhere. They can follow things like the items you click on yet don’t accept. Moreover, the messages you open, the connections you snap, and that’s just the beginning.

IP address tracking:

Your IP address distinguishes you on the web. It resembles a place of residence to ensure the data you demand— searches, messages, and that’s just the beginning. Sites track the geographic area of their guests and distinguish rehash guests and their inclinations utilizing IP addresses. 

Web-based business locales:

Ecommerce destinations track your inclinations because (plainly) they need to sell however much as could be expected of you. Numerous online business destinations use client information stages (CDPs), explicit programming. This helps organizations mine information and transform it into deals.

What Data Do the Data Brokers Know?

Data broker company gathers details about customers from various public and non-public sources. It includes social media, website cookies, mobile ad Ids, credit card information, courthouse and government records, etc.

Usually, they start collecting data from the basic details such as names, addresses, contact details, age, etc. Further, enrich it with various details to segment it. This information is sold to the Adtech companies, agencies, DMP, or programmatic platforms to target audiences based on their behavior, purchase, interest, hobbies, and much more.

Generally, consumer data broker companies sell segmented data to AdTech companies in an anonymous form. That too, before selling it, it defines the specific rules and limitations of using that data. This is usually done on a cost per mille(CPM) basis or as a media percentage.

Is Data Brokerage Legal?

Their legality varies from country to country. Not long ago, data protection and privacy hardly mattered to companies and individuals. With an increase in the online activities of customers and the generation of data from brands, data privacy and protection are now a matter to focus on.

After implementing data brokers privacy regulations such as- CCPA, GDPR, HIPAA, GLBA, VPPA, ECPA, COPPA, etc., online data broker companies and brands of all sizes are taking privacy securing measures. Eventually, they have started taking consent from companies and individuals in various ways on their website, landing page, and registration forms.

How Are Data Brokers Regulated?

GDPR annually penalizes the organization 4% of its annual global revenue or 20 million euros, whichever is high for violating the individual’s privacy. 

Recently, Google faced a penalty of close to $57 million by French regulators for violating Europe’s data-privacy rules.

Indeed, most people feel uncomfortable knowing that someone is collecting and selling their details. Data brokerage regulation is a win-win for third-parties, to earn money by selling it to companies and individuals, getting ads that are more relevant to them, and getting money for sharing their details.

Final Thoughts!

Data Broker sites collect customer data from all sources, segments and sell it to brands, but you don’t need to fear it! They don’t use data to harm or stalk customers. Instead, they are using it to make the brands reach their customers at the need of the hour. 

With the implementation of data privacy laws, the data broker industry needs to work within the boundaries of laws protecting consumer data. Otherwise, they will confront penalties for violating consumer privacy laws.

But all this adherence does not mean that you are entirely safe, as the internet never is! The best way to protect your data is by not sharing your data with suspicious websites, reading consent forms before filling in, and paying extra attention to free services. 

Welcome to Audienceplay!

Audienceplay is a one stop solution to help publishers and brands manage and monetize their audiences in a secure and privacy compliant way. Unlike data brokerage markets our DIY platform is all automated and accessible to you transparently. For privacy conscious companies and large teams, Audienceplay also gives on-premise deployment ensuring full control.

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About Sonali Gupta

Sonali is a technical content writer who loves to blend her creativity with rational ideas of business and technology. She writes expert resource materials related to the Martech and adtech world updated with the digital trends. Previously worked as a banker, she has been a student of Economics and Human Resources. An ardent believer of Universe and optimism, she writes poetry and quotes to satiate her soul. She is always keen on nature, traveling, music and photography.

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