For just $US60, a company registered in New York state is selling the data of over 2,000 Australian women who have signed up for online dating services.
An ABC lead investigation was able to purchase information from dating profiles of more than 2,000 Australians for approximately $86.55. Between 2,500 and 4,000 companies in the United States buy, sell and share personal data. This includes common services providers like Paypal, used by more than 7 million Australians, shares its user data with over 600 different third parties.
According to the ABC, a woman, ‘Rosie’ — who wished to remain anonymous — her file included her age, contact details, place of employment and photographs.
The file also noted that while she did not have children, she would like some in the future.
Rosie’s mother told the ABC her daughter was “quite shocked” to learn how intimate details of her life and her future hopes were being sold online for a profit.
“I feel like it’s more than one website that this information has come from,” she said.
The company that sold the information obtained it from dating apps and websites, but would not respond to questions about exactly how it got the data.
This case is a classic example of how our data is being sold around the world without our knowledge, according to Katina Michael, a professor in computing and information technology at the University of Wollongong.
“There are companies that are scraping people’s data of all types — dating is quite obtrusive — and consumers do not understand what is possible with sophisticated data-scraping algorithms,” Professor Michael said.
Data scraping is the process of importing information from a website into a spreadsheet or database. This primarily achieved through the use of algorithms that are programmed to look for and copy certain types of information.
While this practice is not new, knowledge of it is becoming more widespread. It is important to remember that anything you share or publish online is valuable data to companies. So, remember while the site is free, you are paying for its use with your data.
Keep this in mind with all of your apps and platforms. If you have any questions, please reach out. We are always happy to help.