Plaintiff Thomas Robins sued Spokeo under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because Spokeo had inaccurate information about him in its profile. Spokeo’s profiles are used by potential employers and others to search for data about people. FCRA requires that information in profiles for these purposes be accurate, and it allows people to sue if information is not.
The FTC held a workshop this Monday about Big Data. The term “Big Data” is used everywhere these days, and depending upon who is talking about it, Big Data is either the hippest thing in the world and the producer of miracles that will save the human race, or it is the scourge of all evil and the doom of freedom and democracy. I think that neither is the truth, and I want to dispel some myths about Big Data:
I’ve blogged in the past about FreeCreditReport.com and the fact that I think it ought to be shut down. This is one of the rather obnoxious attempts by the credit reporting agencies to exploit people’s fears of identity theft as a tool to generate money.
FreeCreditReport.com is not free. You can get your free credit report at the official site, AnnualCreditReport.com.
You’ve probably seen the commericals, which run incessantly on CNN and other cable channels. A happy young man says: “I’m thinking of a number . . . ” That number is a credit score, which you can obtain at a website called FreeCreditReport.com. You probably have heard that under a new federal law, credit reporting agencies are required to provide each person with a free credit report once a year. That website, however, has the much more obscure name AnnualCreditReport.com. I previously blogged about my experiences using AnnualCreditReport.com. One of the problems is that if you don’t know that the correct website is AnnualCreditReport.com, then it is very easy to go to the FreeCreditReport.com website. After all, it is featured quite prominently in a Google search for “free credit report.”
But there’s one catch — it ain’t free. Far from it. From the fine print:
The Pentagon and to a lesser extent the CIA have been using a little-known power to look at the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage within the United States, officials said Saturday.
The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.