Building a Better World, Together

What’s at stake: Many consumers know that much of what they do online is being watched and recorded, and that the information collected is often bought, sold, and used by marketers to sell us products.

What fewer of us may recognize is the vastness of this “surveillance economy,” and the extent to which each of us is being targeted.

What CR is doing about it: To shine a light on these issues, CR recruited more than 700 volunteers to download the data that Facebook has collected about them and then send it to us for analysis. What we found was staggering.

Some 186,000 companies had shared data about the 709 participants. An average of 2,230 companies had sent data to Facebook about each of them. For several dozen, the number was over 7,000. Now CR is using these and other findings to urge legislators and regulators to reduce the overall amount of online tracking, and to give consumers both the right to opt out of data sharing and the tools they need to take advantage of those rights. For example, we’re calling on the Federal Trade Commission to move forward with its Commercial Surveillance and Data Security rule, which would limit what companies can do with our most sensitive personal data.

What you can do: Start by signing our petition to the FTC in support of that rule. Then consider using Permission Slip by CR, our free mobile app, which reveals the kind of data that companies collect. Then, if you choose, a tap will tell each of the companies you interact with to stop selling your information or to delete your account entirely.