On Monday, DeleteMe (The Online Privacy Company) released its DeleteMe 2021 PII Marketplace Report, highlighting the metrics, trends, consumer behaviors, and attitudes shaping the ecosystem of online personal information.
The global data broker ecosystem is currently a $200bn industry, with over 4,000 data brokers worldwide and 230 in the United States, with hundreds of data points for every person who has ever spent any time on the internet.
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DeleteMe’s 2021 PII Marketplace Report reveals key insights that impact everyday consumers and businesses alike:
- The amount of online PII (represented by the sample of DeleteMe users) has grown 150% in the past 2 yrs, driven by a combination of a growing level of detail included in data broker profiles, as well as more time spent online due to Covid-fueled remote work and commerce.
- Online PII has changed qualitatively over time, from basic ‘directory’-style data points to including detail on family networks, more information about past residences and employment, as well as emerging sources that can provide historical location-tracking or other behavioral insights.
- Availability of detailed online PII is helping drive rapid growth in consumer fraud, social-engineering ransomware attacks businesses, and new forms of targeted harassment.
- Consumer privacy concerns are rising due to the increased amount of daily life being spent online, and growing awareness of the potential for information abuse.
- The biggest worries are about over-reliance on cell phones with weak privacy protections, growing awareness of the exploitability of account authentication processes, and daily annoyances like unsolicited robocalls.
- ‘Big Brother isn’t the problem’; respondents expressed least concern about Govt handling of PII, but expressed increased concern with unregulated commercial sale of personal info to 3rd parties.
- More than 50% of consumers express a demand for greater limits on how PII is collected, shared, and used, as well as greater transparency about how information is already being employed.
The report leverages internal research conducted by DeleteMe and survey data.
“PII proliferation poses a rising threat to individual privacy, corporate cybersecurity, and personal well-being,” adds Rob Shavell, co-founder and CEO at DeleteMe. “Tighter regulation on data collection and processing is needed, and better education about privacy is essential. Although our study found that more consumers are now taking the time to understand the privacy features and tools available to them, many still take no measures at all to protect their privacy online. And that’s a problem.”
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