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A Senate committee released a report this week that goes to great lengths to determine all of the things that data brokers, the companies that trade in consumer data, don’t want to talk about. The 35-page report describes some of the companies’ strategies for collecting and organizing data, but significant portions of the report discuss what the companies are unwilling to talk about: namely, where they get a lot of their data and where that data is going......What the companies would not specify in full were their sources for consumer data. Three companies, Acxiom, Experian, and Epsilon, would not reveal the sources of their data, citing confidentiality clauses as the reason.The other data brokers said that their data comes from free government and public databases, along with purchase or license data from “retailers,” “financial institutions,” and “other data brokers,” which were otherwise described as “third-party partners.”The report mentions that companies acquire social media data specifically for inclusion in their databases. However, this information is difficult to connect to a profile without access to much of the metadata logged by the sites providing those services. Those sites even discourage trying to source that information outside their official avenues; as the report states, Facebook once asked data broker Rapleaf to dispose of data it had obtained by crawling the website. On the other hand, it’s well-known that companies like Facebook and Google re-sell “anonymized” data fed to their services by customers to third parties like these data brokers.