But in addition to gathering sorting and cataloging information from public records about virtually every American, Acxiom has another business. Its acres of computers store private information about us. Information that is gathered by the nations banks, insurers, credit card issuers, retailers, car makers, and telecom companies. Almost every time you make a purchase, whether buying a book or going to the supermarket or booking a trip, there’s a record of your transaction. A record that’s kept by the company you did business with. Using a combination of this personal information along with its vast storehouse of public data, Acxiom’s computers are able to paint a remarkably detailed portrait of many Americans.
The law that regulates electronic surveillance…the last major restructuring of that law took place in 1986. We need a regulatory infrastructure to protect privacy and right now we don’t quite have one to match the new technologies that we have. The public needs to be putting pressure on state and federal legislators to do something about this. Its important that the public become aware of what’s going on so its voice can be heard.