Privacy

FTC Targets Data Broker Companies

Warned 10 companies they may be violating federal laws against collecting and selling private information

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Federal officials have intensified their scrutiny of the data brokerage industry by issuing a series of formal letters in recent days alerting companies that they may be violating federal restrictions on the collection and sale of personal information.

The letters to 10 companies — ranging from firms that compile consumer lists for credit offersto a Web site that helps parents screen potential nannies — amounted to warning shots at a large and fast-growing industry that gathers personal information and markets it to a variety of customers.

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