There’s been a surge of messages to us asking us to please write about and expose Spokeo, a company that collects and then sells your personal information. Mostly this is from all the mainstream press the service has been getting. Alarming stuff. “Please expose this like you did with ScamVille,” read one message.
Here’s the deal. There’s absolutely nothing you or I can do about it.
Data laws are so lax in the U.S. that companies can do this sort of thing quite legally. Heck, even the WSJ, which got all worked up over cookies on Facebook apps, couldn’t say much bad about Spokeo. You’d think they were sister companies or something.
In 2006 I ranted about Jigsaw, a company that basically does the same thing as Spokeo. What happened next? Did they cower in shame and disappear from the Internet? No, they raised a $12 million round. And then last year SalesCrunch…er…Salesforce, bought them for $142 million.
Yeah, we sure showed them.
Look, the kind of person who starts a company like Spokeo isn’t the kind of person who really cares about bad press. It’s just a bunch of free marketing.
What angers me, but doesn’t really surprise me, is that the Better Business Bureau (click the link if you actually think they serve consumers) has rushed to Spokeo’s defense in a blog post. See Spokeo.com: Panic Unnecessary.
In my opinion panic is probably the best way to react to this. Because unless various state Attorneys General pause their governatorial election campaigns for a moment to actually do something about this mess, all that’s going to happen is this – someone will buy Spokeo for a boatload of money.
And anyway, you’re all enraged right now, but by next week you’ll have forgotten all about this.