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Data Brokers, Gun Owners, and Consumer Privacy 95

Posted by timothy
from the ftc-just-wants-a-peek dept.
New submitter FreaKBeaNie writes "Earlier this month, the FTC issued 9 orders to data brokerage companies to learn more about their privacy practices. Data brokers are skilled at connecting quasi-private data with publicly available data, like voter rolls, housing sales, and now gun ownership records. Unlike merchants or business partners, these data brokers may or may not have had any interaction with the 'subjects' of their data collection."
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Data Brokers, Gun Owners, and Consumer Privacy

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Fraud" is illegal but being criminally careless with this "protected" data is commonplace and is often nearly unpunished.

  • CS Code of Ethics? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    None of this would be possible without the right algorithms. I'm sure that there are coders who will always do such things, just like there are medical doctors who engage in borderline therapies; but, shouldn't the rest of us have a Code of Ethics against it?

    • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @06:32PM (#42422433)

      what about a engineer like Code of Ethics for code that for stuff like autopilots / medical hardware needs engineer like sign offs with the power to SAY NO to the PHB who wants to push out poor code just to meet a deadline.

      • Until software engineers have the same kind of code of ethics and sign offs that other engineers have I don't think they are really engineers.

        Right now if you are a software engineer and you say no to something you are very likely to be fired. If you are a chemical engineer and you tell your boss no for something then they can't do it without some pretty severe legal consequences and if they fire you the consequences are even more severe.

  • I never thought I'd see the day when our data privacy was being protected to this degree by the FTC. But I am all in favor.
    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:38PM (#42421767)

      The addition of gun-owner data might help to make it more of a bipartisan issue. Privacy protections are typically (though not exclusively) supported by liberals and opposed by anti-regulation conservatives, who see them as too much an EU-style approach. But gun owners are very wary of this kind of stuff and a significant GOP constituency.

      • The addition of gun-owner data might help to make it more of a bipartisan issue.

        Car data. That'll do it. Right wing, left wing, smack in the middle . . . when push comes to shove, they all still drive cars.

        An interactive map showing where expensive cars are parked in the driveways? Maybe some anti-SUV folks would like to put up a map like that.

  • Once this starts hitting gun owners, we'll hear screams for stronger privacy legislation.

    Dear Mr. Savage: As an AR-15 owner, you need the best magazines and ammo! Stainless steel 30 round magazines for your assault rifle [ammunitiontogo.com]! Great deals on bulk ammo! This is the good stuff [brownells.com], military grade Federal XM855 Green Tip Steel Penetrator! Made in USA! 500 rounds per box! Check out our ammo can bundles! Order today! And don't forget your AR-15 cleaning kit. [amazon.com] (Expect delays due to high order volume).

    (There's been

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      People can be unjustly discriminated against, or unjustly harassed, for many reasons. Therefore, keeping the kinds of information that are likely to elicit such discrimination or harassment private is important.

      Gun owners, no matter how proud they are of their rights and heritage, are justified in wanting to keep their purchase history just between them and the seller. More so now, since there is widespread animosity towards gun owners even if they never have and never will do anything evil or irresponsib

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        Why gun owners and not everybody else?

        Zillow is a hugely effective tool to help prospective home purchasers understand the market value of houses in a neighborhood, disclosing sales history for nearly every property in the US. I can know know exactly what my landlord paid for the property I rent, what he pays in taxes, and comparable data for my neighbors.

        Great. Not so much privacy though.

        If Brownells sells their customer sales history (which the credit card companies already give, albeit with less detail),

    • Well, duh. Lots of people remember how valuable pre-ban stuff became the last time around and are hoping to cash in. I didn't get an AR because I think the prices have gone well past sanity. I did pick up a few high-capacity mags for guns I already own, though.
    • Thanks for the AR magazine link. You can't find those things anywhere.

      • Here [themakogroup.com] is one in stock for $10 less - unlike others, Mako hasn't been price gouging. And they claim they have enough in stock [ar15.com] to fulfill orders for the foreseeable future, with no size limit on them etc. Look up for discount codes in that thread, as well (free shipping, among other things).

    • by tnk1 (899206) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @06:00PM (#42422251)

      Christ. No one is selling assault rifles in the US. No one. They're already illegal. Even the media is starting to say, "assault-type" rifles, which is just as misleading because it is a pointless term, but at least it implies that they know that no one is actually firing an actual assault rifle, even in school shootings.

      Assault rifles are either full auto or multi-round burst. Every single weapon in the US that is called "assault-style" is a semi-automatic. All the AR-15's for sale are semi-autos. The fact that they are the basis for the M-16 and the M-4 does not make them any more lethal than any other semi-auto. In fact, they are less lethal than many hunting rifles because they use smaller caliber ammo that tends to make clean holes. And few to none of them are using drum or other high capacity magazines. I assure you, you can fire as much ammo as you like with one weapon and the ability to drop a clip and reload another one.

      The problem with the weapons is not the type of weapon, its the fact that it's being fired at unarmed people in situations where they were not expecting to be shot at and so were unprepared and unable to respond. Any weapon at all will do for that, even a knife.

      That said, I'm not entirely against sane gun laws, but when the media keeps pointing to types of guns that don't even really exist as a separate class as being the problem, it's starting to sound more like it is trying to make headlines instead of promoting accuracy.

      The real problem with these shootings isn't guns, it's the crazy people behind them, more to the point, the crazy people that everyone knew were nuts, but no one knew what to do with. If you think this is a wake up call for gun control, you're 100% wrong. This is a wake up call for better mental health care and screening.

      And I don't know what planet you are from, but I don't know a single gun owner or conservative who is happy with the idea of the government or companies getting more information. You act as though they were perfectly glad that spam existed until they started to get it now, as if they weren't getting it in their email, mailbox and telephone for everything else already.

      • The real problem with these shootings isn't guns, it's the crazy people behind them, more to the point, the crazy people that everyone knew were nuts, but no one knew what to do with. If you think this is a wake up call for gun control, you're 100% wrong. This is a wake up call for better mental health care and screening.

        Nuts *might benefit* from better health care. But also, it would be best if nuts couldn't get easy access to guns.

        If guns and ammos are available in supermarkets and if people can store any weapon they want at home, if a crazies snaps, he can immediatly grab the nearest weapon and go on a rampage.
        An impulsive idea can immediately be but in action.

        On the other hand, with gun control laws, the acquisition of weapon might require complex paperwork, and guns able to find big number of ammos might be required to

        • by dbc (135354)

          Read the news much? The mom of the guy in CT was trying to get the paper work in order to get him committed for mental health problems. CT has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. His mother had jumped through all the hoops to acquire the guns legally. All her guns -- 100% legal in a restrictive state. The guy shot his own mother and stole her guns before she was able to get him help. Strict laws don't stop the mentally ill from shooting their own mother to steal their ammunition.

          It's fair to

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Nuts *might benefit* from better health care. But also, it would be best if nuts couldn't get easy access to guns.

          Yes, and if we had better health care, we'd identify them and mark them as being prohibited from owning firearms much more quickly, in the states where we already do that.

      • They are plenty happy so long as it is them getting the information, and issuing the restrictions, one for example, who can get married, who can get contraception, who can vote, and so on.
        We've tried the theory that gun ownership will make us safe from tyranny, it hasn't worked.
    • adam savage can just fire a cannon at you business with a cannon ball made from your junk mail.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why don't I own the copyright to my own data? If it has commercial value, how is it that others are allowed to profit by buying and selling it without my permission?

    • This is a great 21st Century question.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @05:12PM (#42421975)
      Because it is not your data (well at least not all of it). That does not mean that there should not be some privacy protection, but let us keep straight what we are talking about. For the most part the data being talked about here is data that was collected by a private company. Some of it is data that was collected by the government. When you buy something from company A, the data of what you bought is company A's data. So is any other data that you gave them as part of making that transaction.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because it's not an expression of an idea that you created; it's facts about you and therefore not copyrightable.

  • by markhahn (122033) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @06:50PM (#42422521)

    Most articles that claim to be written on the topic of privacy are actually about anonymity - we in large civilizations have gotten used to being mostly anonymous in public. Not because it was ever really true, and certainly not because it was ever a right. Our public anonymity could always be punctured by anyone with enough of an interest - law enforcement, PIs, even plain old stalkers or nosey neighbors. Public anonymity is inversely proportional to how interesting you are.

    It follows that there is no legal basis for preventing anyone (person or company) from collecting information from any legal sources, correlating it, building detailed profiles and behavioral models. If your CC agreement denys the CC company the right to keep and sell information about your purchases, good for you: otherwise, everything you do is being captured and sold. It's just too easy now (and that's the big difference from the public anonymity we all grew used to in the past.)

    So what legal activity is actually justified in this context? For one, you should strictly defend any contract you have with your service providers - ensure that they are living up to their end of it. Second, we probably need a revamped libel law that will create significant punitive damages if any information broker promulgates false information about you (ie "slander"). It used to be that slander was primarily attached to public figures, but that was really just because they were the only ones anyone paid enough attention to. All that's changed is that there are now many companies publishing (in one form or other) information about virtually everyone. They all need to be held to high standards of integrity - this is not a case where we should let the market set price/quality punishment for bad behavior.

    • Our public anonymity could always be punctured by anyone with enough of an interest - law enforcement, PIs, even plain old stalkers or nosey neighbors. Public anonymity is inversely proportional to how interesting you are.

      That particular objection is irrelevant. It isn't the fact that some random person's anonymity can be broken by a sufficiently determined attacker with sufficient application of effort. It's the fact that nowadays, everyone's anonymity is being broken on an industrial scale and o

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      In point of fact, of course, anonymity isn't a 'right' and never has been. In fact, the bulk of human history has been one in which people know the people around them very well (and by that I mean know them, their parents, their extended family, etc.).

      In fact, anonymity was regarded as SUSPICIOUS. If nobody knew you at all, how could they know what to expect from you?

      While I suspect that the bulk of /. modernistas would shudder at this level of 'public knowledge, personally, I strongly suspect that's one

    • In most situations there is no need to differentiate between privacy and anonymity if we view anonymity as simply one aspect of a more general concept of privacy.

      Most articles that claim to be written on the topic of privacy are actually about anonymity - we in large civilizations have gotten used to being mostly anonymous in public. Not because it was ever really true, and certainly not because it was ever a right.

      The wording of your statement is unclear, what is "it" referring to?

      If you are claiming that privacy is not a right recognized by the legal system that simply isn't true: the Supreme Court recognized a limited right to privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Further, there are ideas about privacy going way back in English Common Law: you can us

  • But rifles of any kind, be they AR style or bolt action are rarely used in a crime. AR style are used in less than 0.001%. Most murders that are committed with a firearm use no more than one shot (US bureau of statistics) BTW Feinstine(sp?) is going after all firearms as well as registering even antiques. Read the bill, not what she claims is in it!
  • ... did not also publish the data from the thousands of documents the Obama administration is hiding (and that Atty Gen Holder is in contempt of congress for withholding from a lawful subpoena) about the thousands of assault weapons they transferred to Mexican drug gangs

    "We the people" need AR-15s, big magazines, hollow-point rounds and body armor etc .... to defend ourselves from the criminal gangs that our own federal government has been supplying with crate-loads of "assault weapons". These are the same

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