Journalism in the Public Interest

Consumer Affairs, Technology

Discussion: How Do Data Brokers Impact You?

A credit card transaction at a grocery store in Miami, Florida. Credit cards and customer loyalty programs can be used to collect consumer data. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Lois Beckett detailed everything we know about the data companies selling your personal information — from how much you make to whether you’re on a diet. “Certain kinds of sensitive data are protected — but much of your information can be bought and sold without any input from you,” Beckett noted.

You responded with concerns, questions, and personal stories of working to keep your information safe. Some of you said you avoid store loyalty cards. Another commenter added, “Whenever I am asked for a zip code or phone number, I always make one up.” Overall, many were left asking, “Now what?”

On Friday, Beckett was joined by fellow data and online privacy reporters Natasha Singer of the New York Times (@natashanyt) and Jennifer Valentino-DeVries of the Wall Street Journal (@jenvalentino). They were online to answer your questions about the people buying your information, and the companies they sell it to. Did you know you don't have to be logged into a social network for your data to be tracked? Or that E.U. citizens have the right to request their data from banks, stores and supermarkets? For more details on data mining, check out their discussion below:

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