Lee Terry

Privacy advocates and trade groups are clashing over how to build consumer protections into the fast-growing data broker industry as they await the results of two long-running investigations that could shape Washington’s approach to the sector. Both the Federal Trade Commission and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee launched studies of data brokers last year, seeking information about how the firms operate and do business. The reviews, which are ongoing, have targeted companies including Acxiom, Experian and Datalogix, which collect information about people from sources online and offline and sell it to other businesses

Even as it defends the National Security Agency’s controversial Internet surveillance programs, the Obama administration has been working on legislation to boost online privacy safeguards for consumers. The fact that the administration is trying to advance such a measure—amid reports that the government can access people’s online communications—speaks to growing tensions with Europe over privacy. Top European Union officials have called for tighter data rules for U.S. Internet companies, and a base-line privacy bill would strengthen the administration’s hand in negotiating with Europe

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