The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has reached settlements with three affiliated companies accused of selling the financial and other personal information of hundreds of thousands of consumers to illegitimate buyers. The settlements include a judgment against the defendants totaling $5.7 million and a prohibition on their selling consumers financial information in the future. Significantly, the FTC noted that while in some industries the effect of sharing customer information may be less harmful, if your stock-in-trade is personal information, what’s reasonable under the circumstances may be different. The FTCs comments in announcing the settlements suggest its willingness to closely scrutinize data brokers and other intermediaries. By noting that what’s reasonable under the circumstances may be different in the context of data brokers, and by titling its post: Dealing in personal data? Seller beware, the FTC is warning data brokers that they may be held responsible not only for the data in their possession, but also the bad actions of those to whom they knowingly sell data.

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