The media is filled with articles about how much data is being collected about all of us.  Data aggregators make money by tracking consumers activities on the Internet; the advertisers make money by being able to send consumers ads and coupons that are more and more carefully tailored based on this aggregated data.

But consumers haven’t been able to know just how much of their data is out on the Internet and available for others to collect and use.  Now there is a new free service that allows consumers to learn about some, but unfortunately not all, of the data that’s been compiled about them.

On September 4th, the Acxiom Corporation launched a free site called AbouttheData.com.  Consumers going to this site can see what kinds of biographical information Acxiom has collected about them.  Why can Acxiom do this?  Because it’s one of the largest collectors of consumers’ personal information.

Consumer data that can be found on the site includes educational level, economic information, marital status, homeownership (e.g.,mortgage amount and property size), number of children in a family, car information (e.g., make, model, year) as well as recent purchases.

Equally important, the site offers consumers several key options:

  • the ability to learn about the sources of the various pieces of data about themselves;
  • the ability to correct or suppress specific data elements about themselves; and
  • the ability to opt out completely from having Acxiom collect and store marketing data about themselves.

I wanted to give the website a few days to be operational before going to it in case there were any problems when it launched.  I haven’t read yet about any glitches so I’ll be going there myself.

While I wish the site gave even more information, it’s a start for all of us to try and get more control over our personal data — we can only do so when we know what data is out there and being used by others.