Whose Life Is It, Anyway?

Consumers are learning their data is currency and new companies are betting they can help them cash in

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To hear it from the Federal Trade Commission, an online data collector is an awful lot like a Hollywood paparazzo.

Companies that track and collect online consumer data can act like “invisible cyberazzi,” said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz during a speech at the National Press Club in October. The chairman, while noting that he doesn’t want to “pull a Sean Penn” and get rid of behavorial targeting, said, however, that these companies, hidden in shadow, trail people on the Web, nabbing personal information and snapshots of activity that they then share with marketing firms.



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