Clinic Study Finds Many Companies Are Quietly Selling Personal Information to Third Parties

Type: Report
Year: 2007

In a new study, Consumer Information Sharing: Where the Sun Still Don’t Shine, students and researchers at the Samuelson Clinic made requests for companies’ information sharing policies under SB 27, California’s “Shine the Light” Law. Enacted in 2003, SB 27 requires companies doing business with California residents to disclose their information sharing policies, or allow individuals to opt out of third- party information sharing. The Samuelson Clinic made 86 requests under this law, and found that while many companies have voluntarily adopted a policy of not sharing personal information with third parties, many still operate under an opt-out model that is inconsistent with consumer expectations, and others simply did not respond to the request. Only two companies made a full disclosure of information sharing relationships, and many of the companies that sold personal information shrouded their policies in vague, euphemistic, and sometimes contradictory language.