The Federal Trade Commission is still pushing the data broker industry to open up about its practices. After announcing an inquiry two years ago that focused on nine notable data collection companies, the FTC has now released a new report in an effort to push Congress to make the industry more transparent to consumers.

Tearing down the veil of secrecy

The 110-page report, titled Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability, details how companies like Acxiom and Corelogic collect and market consumer data without the user's knowledge or consent. In addition, companies will often analyze sensitive data like race and socioeconomic status from behind to the scenes to create profiles that can be used for marketing purposes. Among other things, the FTC wants Congress to force data brokers to make clear to consumers how much data they collect and how that data is used, get consent from users, and provide opt-out options for those who want to keep their personal information private.

Congress is already on the same page, it seems. Late last year, the Senate Commerce Committee released its own report investigating the industry. Its findings show that companies now can collect data on almost every US household.