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How "Data Brokers" Cost a 92 Year Old Veteran His Life Savings by Selling His Info to Professional Scam Artists

This Has Actually Happened Before

Richard Guthrie was a 92 year old army veteran living in Iowa, with 8 grown children and a wife who had passed a number of years ago. Richard Guthrie was also broke. He had been scammed over the phone by a con man pretending to be a government worker.

How did this happen? Well, it turned out that InfoUSA, a "Consumer Data Clearing House," had sold his personal info, along with over 3 million other elderly individuals, to known scam artists.

Those scam artists then went down that list of senior citizens, and robbed them of over $100 million. InfoUSA described these individuals, whose data they were wantonly distributing: "These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change."

The Shadow Networks That Traffic in Personal Data

InfoUSA is just one example of the rise of "Data Brokers;" nondescript corporations that make their money by buying your personal data, packaging it, and reselling it to the highest bidder.

Here's how they work: a data broker will buy up data from a bunch of sources, including, now, your Internet Service Provider. Then they attach the data they collect to your personal information, and sell data about you: a specific, personally identified individual.

They sell these "personal profiles" in bulk, to whomever will buy it. And because data brokers are unregulated, this data is often incomplete, out of context, or flat out wrong

The consequences are sinister. In addition to cases like Guthrie's, brokers will sell browsing histories, financial information, and even confidential medical secrets.

ISPs Are Notoriously Sloppy

The recent repeal of the ISP Browser History Law represents an enormous opportunity for these shady purveyors of privacy. ISPs are the perfect data vendors because...

ISPs are famously reckless with your personal information. They have dealt with scandal after scandal, and are consistently rated the least trustworth of all major tech companies: on the EFF Who Has Your Back trustworthiness metric, they each have one star-- the lowest rating possible.

Not only do these data brokers represent a massive revenue opportunity for ISPs(part of the reason they were salivating to see those privacy laws repealed), but the brokers might not even have to buy the data! They just wait for another leak and start collecting.

In case you still weren't convinced, here are a few more notable examples from just the past few years:

Between the unscrupulous selling practices of data brokers, and the massive, loosely guarded data troves of ISPs, your privacy could be compromised in a way that could scarcely be imagined in years prior.

Take Yourself Off the Market

This may seem apocalyptic, but it is important to remember that you have options-- If you request an opt out from ISP data collection, they have to respect it. However, they haven't made opting out easy, and likely won't(And why would they?)

1. We monitor ISP behavior to ensure that opt out requests are respected. If we find evidence that your privacy may be in danger, we take steps to notify you, and recommend options to protect yourself.

2. Half of the money we raise goes into a legal fund. That fund is then used to bankroll civil suits against ISP when they violate your privacy.

If you think your ISP has violated your privacy, and we think you might have a case, we will bankroll your suit. Our team will also handle all the legal legwork of filing, finding attorneys, and navigating the complexities of a civil case with no cost to you. If you win, we take a small contingency fee to help maintain the fund.

If you want to protect your data from the prying eyes and hands of the ISP, protect yourself with just a few clicks. When ISPs try to encroach on your rights, you need to fight back immediately, and fight back hard.