The Federal Trade Commission has announced its latest inquiry in its effort to uncover data collection practices, ordering nine data collection companies to divulge the type of consumer information they collect, where they get it from, how they use and share it, the extent to which they allow consumers to access and correct their data, and whether customers are able to opt-out of having their personal information sold. The FTC has taken a number of actions this year against groups with dubious data collection practices -- recently, it settled with web analytics company Compete, Inc. over collection of detailed personal information on users without gaining their consent. The FTC has also kept an active eye on smartphone data collection and data collection in apps for children. As The Los Angeles Times reports, the FTC dinged data broker Spokeo for $800,000 over charges that it illegally sold personal data for employment screening purposes.

The FTC says that Acxiom, Corelogic, Datalogix, eBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, Peekyou, Rapleaf, and Recorded Future have all been ordered to report on their data use and sharing practices, and that it will use their responses to prepare a study and to "make recommendations on whether, and how, the data broker industry could improve its privacy practices."