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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Posts
    2

    Exclamation Selling Personal Info

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California

    Lots of sketchy companies online (e.g. mylife.com, beenverified.com, etc) are selling people's personal info (cell phone numbers, emails, addresses, arrest records, etc.) to paying members. The people who get their records checked don't even know who or when their record is pulled. This I think could be used maliciously, and the people who are getting these records don't have to justify why they are pulling people's records and for what intent. There is no accountability. I know california allows for the do not sell your info act, and the website also allows for people to remove their records, but its often long and tedious, reqiuiring people to call an agent, recieve an email, send snail mail, or a combination of these. Also, the removal request can take 48-72 hours, or even longer, leaving people vulnerable during this time. Also, these are private companies, and it would be near impossible for a person to go through and find each site, and call each site's customer service/fill out the removal form to request for their records to be removed. I checked my record, and most of the info seems to be accurate from what they preliminarily present (I never paid for it). I am sure there must be some sort of law against this right? What do you lawyers think?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,756

    Default Re: Selling Personal Info

    Almost all of those "sketchy" companies get the information from publicly available sources. They also specifically disclaim them from being used for employment/credit type things that would make them subject to the FCRA or they follow all the rules for FCRA.

    I'm not sure what "accountability" you think should apply to them. There's not usually anything you can get from BeenVerified that you could more laboriously do by contacting the various sources that they use.

    The law you're referring to is the "California Computer Privacy Act" doesn't apply here. What that law does is say that if YOU provide them information, you have rights about controlling what they subsequently do with it.
    It doesn't mandate they remove information they get from people OTHER than you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    8,025

    Default Re: Selling Personal Info

    Quote Quoting 14jchan
    View Post
    I am sure there must be some sort of law against this right? What do you lawyers think?
    There isn't such a law. Many Americans seem to believe that information about them is more protected by privacy laws than is really case. Privacy laws in the U.S. are a patchwork of laws that protect information in very specific situations. Some examples of federal laws related to privacy:

    • The Privacy Act of 1974 regulates how the federal government generally handles the information it has about you, and more specific laws regulate some agencies even more tightly. For example, IRC 6103 has extensive rules that cover when the IRS may disclose your tax return information.
    • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that prohibits health care providers and health insurers from disclosing the protected health information (PHI) that they have except in the circumstances allowed by the Act.
    • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) both provide rules to protect disclosure of some of your credit information to others by credit reporting agencies and debt collectors.
    • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires financial services companies like banks, mortgage lenders, etc, provide notices to you of how they will use your information and requires that they safeguard your financial information.
    • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) limits schools in what information they may disclose about students.

    As those examples illustrate, the laws target information held by particular organizations — government agencies, health care providers, financial institutions, etc. There isn't a privacy law that applies to all businesses and persons as some seem to think. Thus no federal law prohibits a private company from gathering up whatever information is out there in public records and making that available to peopele on the internet. State privacy laws are also similarly targeted at specific circumstances rather than having a very broad law covering all businesses and organizations.

    As public records are already available to anyone who wants to see them these firms are not disclosing information that others couldn't already get. What they do is gather up that information and make it easy for people to get it in one place. That's not illegal or even necessarily objectionable.

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