For immediate release: March 27, 2024


A broad coalition of human rights and consumer protection groups is calling on the FTC to follow California’s lead and create a one-click opt out to keep everyday people’s private, personal information off of data broker websites and away from AI scammers.

Amid escalating enforcement actions against data brokers, a broad coalition of 27 human rights and consumer protection groups are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to give everyday people a way to permanently opt-out from having personal information like their home address and phone number sold on data broker websites.

“Everyone can agree that companies shouldn’t be able to buy and sell your personal information without your permission. We’ve known for over 25 years that the nonconsensual business models of data brokers that monetize all our private info on the front page of Google are dangerous. Yet our government has done almost nothing to give everyday people the right to feel safe in the privacy of our homes,” said Lia Holland (they/she), the Campaigns and Communications Director at digital rights organization Fight for the Future, which is leading this effort. “Now, data brokers are set to profit from fueling supercharged AI scams that use private personal information to harm all of us, but especially veterans, the elderly, abuse survivors, civil servants, journalists, and activists. The first best time for government action against data brokers was a quarter century ago. The next best time is today.”

The effort, which includes a public petition to the FTC, is hosted at The URL and page reference “doxing”, the act of publicly providing personally identifiable information about an individual or organization, usually via the Internet and without their consent. Doxing is illegal in several countries, whereas in the US it is a major business model for unscrupulous tech companies.

Often downplaying their role in harm to traditionally marginalized people with business names reminiscent of phone books or family trees, there are over 500 data brokers registered in California alone. But California is moving to protect its residents with a recently passed law that will allow individuals to opt out of data broker sites with one click. Yet until the opt-out website debuts in 2026, even Californians must use a patchwork of apps, constant vigilance, and costly paid services to pursue the “nearly impossible” task of keeping the private information of their loved ones off the front page of Google.

Endorsing organizations reflect the wide swath of communities harmed by data brokers scraping and sharing their private information, and include Freedom of the Press Foundation, Consumer Action, 18 Million Rising, Yale Privacy Lab, and National Consumer Law Center, as well as the below quoted signatories:.

Tess Wilson (she/her) Deputy Director of the Library Freedom Project, said: “In the fight to uphold democratic values, library workers often find themselves the targets of doxing and harassment campaigns. Attacks can range in length, severity, and method, but they are unified by the trauma and danger they bring upon individuals and their networks. Because data brokers are independent, numerous, and driven by capital, it is extraordinarily difficult to request the removal of personal information. Requests must be made piecemeal—by contacting one entity at a time—and searching for one’s stray information requires constant vigilance, as new data gets scraped or bought all the time. While there are services available that can help reduce the burden of this byzantine process, these are often financially unviable—especially for marginalized communities, who are disproportionately threatened by doxing efforts. The harmful repercussions of private information made public cannot be understated, and we must advocate for the librarian-activists who are at the center of these campaigns.”

Jessica S. Ensley (she/her), Sr. Vice President of Outreach at Reproaction, said: “People should be able to live without fearing harm to themselves or loved ones. Abortion providers, activists, and leaders unfortunately face threats daily from the anti-abortion movement. By having their private information such as their address and phone number searchable online, data broker websites are allowing bad actors to do harm to abortion advocates. Violence against abortion providers is unfortunately not new, and several abortion providers have been murdered by anti-abortion zealots over the years. As abortion advocates are seeing a rise in threats, it is necessary that the exploitative practice of data broker sites be stopped once and for all.”

Claire Alywne (she/her), CEO of the Erotic Service Provider Legal Education and Research Project (ESPLERP), said: “Technology companies and data brokers are building databases of adult consensual sex workers – where posting an ad online to make money to survive can lead to your face and personal information being cataloged and handed to law enforcement – which then leads to de-platforming from social media, cancellation of bank accounts, and in person harassment. Recently, California passed a bill known as the Delete Act that allows consumers, with a single request, to have every data broker delete their personal information. There is clearly a need for equivalent Federal legislation to prevent the collection of personal data without consent – to protect workers in the sex trade industry and everyone else.”

Mandy Salley, MSW MEd (she/her) Chief Operating Officer of the The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, said: “We have a fundamental human right to privacy, enshrined in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both elected and appointed officials are responsible for protecting all of our rights, not allowing them to be sold away. Protecting sensitive personal information is especially important for LGBTQIA+ people and other marginalized communities, those whose rights are currently under attack in the US. There is no personal safety when data brokers are able to trade in private information like addresses and phone numbers easily. Our government must act to protect everyone, including especially the most marginalized without access to lobbyists and expensive campaigns. The right thing to do is protect all of our sensitive data, provide a means to block data brokers from profiting from our personal information, and establish an opt-out registry for data brokers.”

For ease of reference, the full list of 27 endorsing organizations is:

Fight for the Future
Consumer Action
18 Million Rising
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Yale Privacy Lab
Woodhull Freedom Foundation
Consumer Federation of America
Demand Progress
National Consumer Law Center
Library Freedom Project
Convocation Research + Design
Oakland Privacy
Kairos Action
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Eye on Surveillance NOLA
Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP)
Surveillance Technology Oversight Project
Dangerous Speech Project
Secure Justice
Project On Government Oversight
Cyber Collective