Is Selling Your Data Legal?

Well, we assume that it is. After all, we think our data is sold all the time.

But mega-data-company Thompson Reuters ran across a judge that disagrees. We shall see where the appeals go.

The case hinges on a product that TR sells called CLEAR.

If you sign up as a CLEAR customer then you can log in and get a dossier on hundreds of millions of people. This is not anonymous data like Facebook or Google claims, but fully identified data. If it was my file, they would claim to have collected all kinds of data about me, both public and not so public and provide that in a simple to use package.

That is where they got sideways with the court.

First the court said that they didn’t get the user’s permission. TR said it was all public data. The court said that the only reason that people bought the service is that TR had collected all that data, even including pictures and they were trampling on people’s rights.

Then TR said they could sell your data unless you opted out. But the court said, among other reasons, that TR made it hard to opt out. After all, who even knew there was such a thing as Thompson’s CLEAR before reading this post. How can you possibly opt out of something you don’t know exists.

The court even used TR’s marketing material against them.

We shall see where this goes on appeal, but this could be an interesting attack on data brokers. Whether it succeeds or not this time, could on the approach coming back again. Credit: Professor Eric Goldman

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