A disturbing – but unfortunately unsurprising – story last week in the New York Times details the Wild West approach many online organizations take with people’s personal health information. With flimsy or no consent, data brokers profile individuals based on web searches and other online activities and sell this information to groups interested in using those data.
While the practice of selling aggregate and anonymous data has been around for years, the move to selling personal details (including addresses and phone numbers) of people’s lives is a newer and growing practice that has broader implications. Privacy advocates are rightfully up in arms.
The sharing of these personal details about health, finances, and academics can impact many parts of a person’s life, from employability to health insurance coverage to access to mortgages and business loans. That the personal details are often inaccurate makes the practice even more disturbing.
Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, who is spearheading efforts, along with other advocates, to combat such practices and protect key aspects of personal privacy paints a gloomy picture of where things currently stand on the issue: “What is of you, they can have.”
Standing out against this trend, we at Cancer News in Context have always placed personal privacy as a top priority of our websites and risk assessment tools – and have been highlighted for our practices in the New York Times – A Better Health Quiz. We never sell or share any personal data or collect ad revenue of any kind.
Our official “Zero Conflicts” statement: