Privacy and the Database Industry

Information Today, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 17, May 2005

3 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2010

Date Written: May 1, 2005


It has been a difficult couple of months for many of the data broker industry’s heavyweights. In mid February, ChoicePoint reported that credit reports and other data of over 140,000 people were provided to criminals posing as legitimate businesses. Later in February, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) chastised Westlaw for the ease in which sensitive records are available through “egregious loopholes” in its database access policies. Finally, LexisNexis reported that “potentially fraudulent access” may have compromised records of 32,000 individuals.

These incidents have lead to calls for increased regulation of data brokers and other consumer information companies, as well as questions about privacy and the information that these brokers hold. Social Security numbers are of particular concern in that they are often the base upon which to build identity fraud. But what about other information such as names, addresses and phone numbers? Or more detailed information such as birth date, employer, income, marital status, home value? Or potentially harmful or embarrassing information like credit reports, criminal records, bankruptcies or lawsuits? How does the law cover the creation and distribution of these records?

Keywords: privacy, privacy rights, privacy protection, database access, regulation, legislation, consumer information companies, Social Security numbers, SSNs, identity theft, ChoicePoint, data brokers, data security breaches, electronic access

Suggested Citation

Pike, George H., Privacy and the Database Industry (May 1, 2005). Information Today, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 17, May 2005. Available at SSRN:

George H. Pike (Contact Author)

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-0295 (Phone)
312-503-9230 (Fax)

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