Data Brokers: A Call to Action

by Andrew Lewis, with support from Betsy Cooper, Maitreyi Sistla and Jessica Cole

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub’s report, Data Brokers: A Call to Action, provides actionable recommendations on regulation and oversight for the data broker industry. “Data Brokers” is a catchall term for businesses that collect, process, store, and sell individualized personal data. The data broker industry has been under increasing scrutiny as they continue to collect detailed and sensitive information on the public, often without the public’s knowledge, informed consent, or understanding of how their data is being used. Regulation and oversight are needed to mitigate the harms that data brokerage poses to civil rights, national security, and consumer privacy.

This report consolidates the ideas and recommendations from a convening hosted by the Hub in June 2023 that gathered a cross-disciplinary group of data privacy professionals to discuss the data broker industry. Participants included leaders from government, academia, the private sector, and civil society. Together, the group discussed the challenges facing the data broker industry and proposed steps that can be taken to improve transparency and privacy protections.

This report organizes the ideas proposed in the convening into concrete recommendations in four areas: Managing the Government’s Use of Data Broker Services, Limiting the Use of Data Brokers in Law Enforcement, Enforcing Existing Laws to Combat Data Broker Abuses, and Educating the Public about Data Brokerage. Most importantly, all recommendations proposed in the report are actionable now, without requiring new federal legislation or regulation.

View the Data Brokers Report