It is seems that the big US companies do not get the fact that civilised countries have data protection laws which they are expected to follow. More than 30 data brokers and data management firms, including big names like Adobe, AOL and Salesforce.com, are violating privacy promises they’ve made regarding their handling of the personal information of EU residents.
The Centre for Digital Democracy said the 30 had voluntarily committed to supporting the EU Safe Harbour framework, a set of standards for protecting the privacy of EU residents, but have failed to keep them. Ironically the CDD is complaining to the US Federal Trade Commission saying the failure to obey the much stricter EU standards constitutes a deceptive business practice. After all Americians who believe that the US plays footloose and fancy free with data might go for a company which adopts a better EU standard.
The CDD called on US and EU officials to suspend the programme pending an investigation by the FTC, the US agency responsible for enforcing the safe harbour provisions. What is a little worrying is that one of the firms named and shamed in the complaint are digital profiling firm Datalogix, marketing software maker Marketo, Oracle-owned data management firm BlueKai, and Neustar, a DNS and call routing service that, after a recent acquisition, has also become a targeted advertising provider.
The companies in the complaint “create detailed digital dossiers” of EU residents, and combine public records with online tracking technologies, mobile tracking and other sources, and can collect addresses, purchase histories, income and family structure, the CDD said.
In many cases, companies listed in the complaint are collecting more personal information from EU residents than described in their Safe Harbour statements, according to the CDD. The CDD also criticized the FTC and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which helped to develop the Safe Harbour framework, for a lack of enforcement. The FTC settled Safe Harbour complaints with 14 companies in June. The Safe Harbour framework has been in place since 2000.