Frank Pasquale of Maryland has a terrific op-ed in today's Times, The Dark Market for Personal Data, about lists of consumers with various characteristics. An excerpt:
There are three problems with these lists. First, they are often inaccurate. For example, as The Washington Post reported, an Arkansas woman found her credit history and job prospects wrecked after she was mistakenly listed as a methamphetamine dealer. It took her years to clear her name and find a job.
Second, even when the information is accurate, many of the lists have no business being in the hands of retailers, bosses or banks. Having a medical condition, or having been a victim of a crime, is simply not relevant to most employment or credit decisions.
Third, people aren’t told they are on these lists, so they have no opportunity to correct bad information.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post ran a piece yesterday on rent-to-own headlined Rental America: Why the poor pay $4,150 for a $1,500 sofa.