Highly personal and sensitive data about military members, such as home addresses, health and financial information, and the names of family members and friends, is easily accessible to anyone who wants to buy it. It’s for sale for as little as $0.12 per record by US-based data brokers.
That’s the finding of a new report from Duke University researchers that shows how data brokers are selling this sort of information with minimal vetting to customers both domestically and overseas—creating major privacy and national security risks. I wrote about the report for a story this week.
The research was concerning to members of Congress, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden, who commented in the piece. Then on November 7, Senator John Cornyn cited my story in a hearing on the harms of social media.
If you want to learn more about the study and what it means for US national security, take a read through my piece.
But I want to give you a more in-depth sense of just what kinds of data is for sale by these brokers, as well as their economic model, using charts. (All charts are based on data provided by the Duke researchers and available in the report.)
First, take a look at just how personal the information is that the researchers were able to purchase—from people’s net worth to whether they have diabetes. The Duke team purchased a total of eight different data sets from three brokers (which they don’t identify by name in the report). The chart below is sorted by data set, and you can see that some information, like emails and home addresses, is widely accessible through multiple providers. I, for one, was surprised to see how frequently information about their children and homeowner status came up.
(If you click on the chart, you’ll be taken to interact with it and see more information about which data was given to buyers with emails both domestic and foreign.)