According to the FTC, some of the apps include criminal record histories, which bear on an individual's character and general reputation and are precisely the type of information that is typically used in employment and tenant screening.
Under the FCRA, operations that assemble or evaluate information to provide to third parties qualify as consumer reporting agencies, or CRAs. Mobile apps that supply such information may qualify as CRAs under the act. CRAs must take reasonable steps to ensure the user of each report has a "permissible purpose" to use the report; take reasonable steps to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of the information conveyed in its reports; and provide users of its reports with information about their FCRA obligations. In the case of consumer reports provided for employment purposes, for example, CRAs must provide employers with information regarding their obligation to provide notice to employees and applicants of any adverse action taken on the basis of a consumer report.
According to the warning letters, the FTC has made no determination whether the companies are violating the FCRA, but encourages them to review their apps and their policies and procedures to be sure they comply with the FCRA. Future actions against those firms weren't ruled out if violations are found.
Also this year the FTC called on the data broker industry to improve the transparency of its practices and set forth what the agency called "a voluntary framework of best practices for businesses based on the concepts of privacy by design, consumer control, and increased transparency for the collection and use of consumer data." The FTC said that while data brokers collect, maintain, and sell a wealth of information about consumers, they often do not interact directly with consumers. Rather, they get information from public records and purchase information from other companies. As a result, consumers are often unaware of the existence of data brokers as well as the purposes for which they collect and use consumers' data.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.