Watch CBS News

Businesses Trade Your Privacy For Profit

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - When you start using an app, a new website or buy something online, or in a store, do you take the time to read the company's privacy policy closely?

No? Well, consumer experts say you may want to take a closer look. Some businesses say they 'respect your privacy' and won't sell the data they've collected about you. A growing number of policies, however, now say if the company changes hands, so can your information.

Realtor Chantay Bridges uses major social media apps and buys materials online to help her run her business. She said what she didn't realize is that some of those companies now have clauses like "in case of new owner we may transfer your information" in their privacy policies.

"I was extremely shocked," said Bridges.

Some policies even say your information may be shared with a potential new owner during sales negotiations.

"Data can be a goldmine for companies," said attorney Elise Frejka.

A data goldmine because some companies collect information about millions of people. From your name, birth date, email and phone number to you purchase history and more. That type of information can be pretty valuable in a sale.

"I think it's a necessary evil in order for an acquiring company or an investor to look at the model of the company and make informed decisions as to what the economics are," said Frejka.

Data can also be at risk if the business goes belly up.

"Even if a company goes bankrupt, they still need to honor that privacy policy or a regulator like the Federal Trade Commission can step in and say, 'Wait just a second, if you promise people you would never sell or share the data then you have to live up to that promise," said Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum.

So, do companies have to notify you if your data is transferred?

"It's really going to depend on that company policy at the time they collected your information," said Dixon.

Bridges said from now on she's not going to gloss over privacy policies, but instead look to see what happens to her information if the company changes hands.

"We take a look at stuff, but we don't always dig a little deeper and we probably need to look at that a little closer," said Bridges.

Frejka and Dixon said you if feel uncomfortable with a company's privacy policy, you can always contact them and tell them you want to 'opt out' from them collecting your data. The downside of that is that you may no longer be able to use their service.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.