Privacy groups want investigation of big data acquisitions

The regulatory agency should conduct stricter reviews before granting approval to big data deals, four groups say

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should launch an investigation into the growing consolidation of big data analytics firms and digital marketing companies, a coalition of four privacy groups said Friday.

A recent spate of acquisitions in the big data and digital marketing industries raises privacy concerns about "companies amassing vast holdings of the key element that drives much of online commerce" -- information about consumers, said the groups in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

The four privacy groups -- the Center for Digital Democracy [CDD], U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog, and Public Citizen -- raised particular concerns about Oracle's agreement, announced in December, to acquire data broker Datalogix. The transaction gave Oracle, in its words, access to the "the world's most valuable data cloud" for digital marketing and for connecting consumers' various identities across "all devices, screens and channels."

The FTC approved Oracle's acquisition of Datalogix about three weeks after the companies announced it. There were more than 200 mergers and acquisitions in the marketing and advertising technology industries in the first half of 2014, according to Results International, a U.K. business consultancy.

The company's purchase of Datalogix should have triggered a more extensive review by the FTC, given the agency's expertise of the digital data industry, the privacy groups said. Oracle also acquired data broker BlueKai last year.

The Oracle and Datalogix deal "reflects the digital data arms race underway where companies are amassing powerful and detailed sets of information to track and target a consumer anywhere, anytime," Jeff Chester, CDD's executive director, said by email.

The combined data sets of Oracle and DataLogix include information about consumers' finances, race, locations and other sensitive data, the groups said. The merger touches on several consumer-protection matters, including financial marketing and auto sales, where the FTC has a congressional mandate to protect the public, the groups said.

Representatives of Oracle and the FTC declined to comment on the letter from the privacy groups.

U.S. regulators need to take a hard look at new big data mergers, said Rob Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

With big data mergers continuing, "a handful of data titans hope to aggregate personal and private data about everyone, so they know where we go, what we do, whom we see, what we want, what we think and what we say," Weissman said in a statement. "There's no reason for us to be racing toward a dystopian future of total surveillance."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Mergers and acquisitionsEdith RamirezResults InternationalU.S. PIRGU.S. Federal Trade CommissionCenter for Digital DemocracyJeff ChesterRob Weissmanlegislationinternetanalyticsgovernmentbusiness issuesPublic CitizenConsumer WatchdogOracle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?