Data Broker Acxiom goes on the Offense agreeing with Apple's CEO, though doesn't want their Industry overly Scrutinized
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple's CEO wants the Government to Rein In Data Brokers who Invisibly work with Online Stores to Collect your Data." Today we're learning that Acxiom, a large data brokerage, has come out in support of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s quest to bring a law very much like the EU’s GDPR to America.
“Acxiom, like Mr. Cook, also supports a national privacy law for the US, such as GDPR provides for the European Union,” said the company in a statement
Data brokers are firms which act as middlemen, transferring data between different companies and parties – or as Cook put it in the op-ed, “a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer.” The biggest data brokers include firms like Acxiom, Experian, and Oracle.
In the statement, Acxiom said that it is “actively participating in discussions with US lawmakers” on consumer transparency, which it claims to have been voluntarily providing “for years.” Still, the company denied that it partakes in the unchecked “shadow economy” which Cook made reference to in his op-ed.
Acxiom advocated for a single set of US policies, rather than multiple state laws. The company wrote: "What everyone must understand is that the cost of compliance for all businesses in the US will be punitive and detrimental to our economy if everyone must adhere to multiple and independent state laws versus a singular, united set of policies across the US." For more on this, read the full BI report here.
It seems like shady companies all say the same thing in almost the same language. The "Information Technology and Innovation Foundation" (ITIF) representing the three worst offenders of selling consumer data, Google, Facebook and Twitter, said the very same thing as Axciom. The ITIF proposed a "grand bargain" with lawmakers, arguing that any new federal data privacy bill should preempt state privacy laws and repeal the sector-specific federal ones entirely. ITIF's senior policy analyst added that "Privacy regulations aren’t free—they create costs for consumers and businesses, and if done badly, they could undermine the thriving U.S. digital economy."
Acxiom appears to want to blur the lines and be one of the good guys on this issue by snuggling up to Tim Cook's statements yet want to ensure that State laws shouldn't be allowed.
Such statements show us that they're afraid of States being able to craft specific and meticulous new local laws that these shady companies will have to fight one state at a time. They claim it's only about saving consumers money, when it's really about not being able to lobby one group in Washington and protect their company and others in their industry from being over scrutinized. It's a way to control law makers.
Apple's CEO hit a nerve yesterday when he stated that "Right now, all of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that’s largely unchecked—out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers."
While Acxiom says that they agree with Cook's statements, they certainly don't want to be overly scrutinized by regulators and lawmakers. It's great PR to side with Cook on this issue that rocked their industry yesterday, but that doesn't make Acxiom one of the good guys yet.
Until new Federal and State laws are written to stop data broker's nefarious activities, Acxiom shouldn't be given a pass until proven they've stopped the practice of selling consumer data to other parties without the consumer knowing.