Remarks in Support of H.764: Data brokers and consumer protection

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Feb 15, 2018 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Support of H.764 Data brokers and consumer protectionThe following are my remarks in support of H.764: An act relating to data brokers and consumer protection, which I delivered on the House Floor today.

I rise in support of H.764.

H.764 is critical to protect victims of domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault by giving them control over their personal data and protect themselves from damage and suffering. Abusers and stalkers use available information and tools to locate, monitor, and harass victims. Data brokers and the personal information they sell is one of the common tools misused as a tactic of abuse.

Over the past decade, data brokers have grown significantly, in number and scope of information they collect and sell. This has made fleeing and relocating increasingly difficult for survivors as perpetrators pay nominal fees to obtain sensitive and personal information that allows them to stalk and locate victims, as well as the victim’s children or family. Data brokers use information from both public records and private sources to collect address histories, motor vehicle records, voter registration lists, consumer purchase histories, web browsing activity, and content shared in social media accounts, among other information. When compiled, data brokers are able to package and sell comprehensive and detailed personal information about individuals. For victims of abuse, whose privacy is deeply connected to their safety, this information can create a risk of them being located, harassed, assaulted, or killed. Survivors often live in fear that they will be found.

In addition, data brokers’ services can also negatively impact professionals working with survivors. For example, there have been data brokers who have sold lists of confidential domestic violence shelter locations and the home addresses of law enforcement officers.

Survivors have a right to control their own information and live free of harassment and abuse. The steps to increase privacy and control of personal data can be a matter of life or death. H.764 furthers Vermont’s strong state interest in protecting victim information. It is a legitimate use of the state’s police powers to regulate health and public safety.

I ask the body for its support.