For data brokers, consumers' personal information can be worth a lot of money. They use it to market products, detect fraud, or help consumers locate old classmates. But the information can also be used to discriminate.
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission initiated a study of data broker practices. The FTC completed that study and just released an extensive report. It includes a series of recommendations to Congress.
Alexander B. Howard, fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, discussed the issue with Government Matters.