The Opt-Out Machine
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How they squirm

by Brendan Roberts

Dec 8, 2022

Data brokers aren't big on privacy law compliance

"Once the opt-out request is sent, all the data is automatically removed from our system."

Isn't that convenient.

We see this a lot in the Opt-Out Machine. A request is made for a copy of personal data (ie: tell me what you know about me), and to opt out of the selling or sharing of personal data. The response that comes back goes:

"Your data has been removed"

Thanks, but that is not what was asked. The Opt-Out Machine will usually push back, requesting that the original requests be honored. But nothing can be reported back if it's already been deleted, right? We can't tell if this is a lack of preparedness for the request, incompetence, or intentional avoidance.

"Verification of identity is required through the Oracle Advertising access site before your request to access offline information can be processed."

We're using Oracle as an example here, but they are by no means alone. Identity verification using bank-grade, Know Your Customer compliant documentation, was already provided to them. This is more reliable than what Oracle, or any data broker, will have on hand to verify identity.

As an aside, consider the audacity here: you have no relationship with Oracle. They have merely taken advantage of the lack of legal restriction to go ahead and claim data about you as their property. Who knows what they know, but how can they possibly claim to have enough to be the ultimate authority on verifying your identity? What we do know is that they are not cooperating with the spirit of the law here, and the Opt-Out Machine is keeping score. Their behavior will soon be shared with regulators and the public.

Please provide the URL where the listing can be found

People finder sites are big on this. In other words, they are saying "fulfill your request yourself, don't bother us with this legal obligation." Unfortunately, it is a legal obligation, which the Opt-Out Machine reminds them.

Ultimately, most of these companies are playing the same game

There is still much to do to evolve our cultural view that surveillance is not okay. Data broker businesses believe that they are in the right. They have often purchased software packages to manage privacy requests that are focused on their needs rather than what privacy laws are intent on helping "consumers" accomplish. That is: they intentionally make it hard. Known Privacy will continue to call this behavior out and be an advocate for your privacy rights.

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