When you think about the big privacy invaders—those household names that gather and sell your personal data with their ever-changing algorithms—you typically think of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. But it turns out there are much bigger threats to your personal data and privacy and to society’s wellbeing generally. WIRED magazine recently exposed one: Reed Elsevier LexisNexis or RELX.
According to WIRED, RELX is a “Frankensteinian amalgam of publishers and data brokers, stitched together into a single information giant.” To give you an idea of size, just one of the brands under RELX’s umbrella makes more money off harvested data than Apple, Google and Amazon combined.
WIRED reports RELX collects personal data, builds elaborate consumer profiles, and then sells them as ‘risk products’ to “cops, your employer, your landlords, your insurance companies, and all sorts of other institutions and overlords” who make life-changing decisions based on the information. “These companies and institutions use RELX’s ‘risk’ products to make decisions about whether you should get hired for a job, have custody of your children, have access to certain types of medication, and even whether you will be detained or arrested.” What’s worse is the data RELX sells is notoriously error-riddled, according to WIRED, and these errors can lead to erroneous decisions and ruin lives.
If you haven’t heard of RELX, you’ve probably heard of Thomas Reuters. WIRED says the two are “uniquely creepy as media companies because they don’t just publish content but also sell our personal data.” But you don’t need to have heard of them for them to track, collate and sell information about you.
How Data Brokers Find and Sell Your Personal Information
RELX isn’t publicly well known but it brought attention to itself when it lobbied loudly against Congress’ potential passing of federal data privacy legislation in August. The lack of comprehensive data privacy laws in the US suits companies like RELX because it lets them free range in the personal data playground.
And it seems things could get worse before they get better. RELX has begun building data products that make health predictions based on private medical records, which can affect insurance premiums. Read more about RELX’s activities here.
We’ve talked about data brokers before, so none of this might be news to you, but it is terrifying every time you hear it, right? It also reinforces, yet again, how essential it is to protect your personal data proactively and properly with privacy-first products like MySudo — and to understand there are more privacy threats than the headline grabbers like Google.
MySudo is the world’s only all-in-one privacy app that lets you speak privately, browse privately and pay privately via secure digital identities called Sudos. Each Sudo can have its own phone number, handle, email, private browser and virtual card* and you use that information instead of your own. You never share your own information with web sites and services; in fact, you don’t even tell us a username or password to set up MySudo. Depending on your monthly plan, you can create up to 9 Sudos for everything you do, such as shopping, socializing, and selling on classified sites like Craigslist.
The best bit is MySudo breaks the data trail that data brokers thrive off, so RELX, Thomas Reuters and the Googles of the world can’t reach you.
*iOS and US only. Android and more locations coming soon.
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