An illustration shows some of the 750 data fields of a Reuters reporter's personal information from his consumer profile at Acxiom, in London, Britain March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Illustration
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The recent revelation that data miner Cambridge Analytica Ltd. improperly accessed 50 million Facebook users' personal data has heightened public concern about the way companies harvest and use our personal data.I asked Arkansas-based Acxiom Corp., which earns over $800 million a year selling consumer profiles to the world's largest companies, what data and insights it held on me.In Europe and the U.S., companies like Acxiom are allowed to collect data from public and other sources about us. Acxiom doesn't have a political arm like Cambridge Analytica does, but the two companies do compete for commercial customers.Shares in Acxiom traded down more than 10 percent to $25 following Facebook's announcement.The results for a single individual obviously don't tell us too much about the accuracy of a database that Acxiom says contains 47 million U.K. profiles and insights into 700 million consumers worldwide.Also, it seems I am a bad data subject since I usually opt out when asked to give companies data sharing rights.Official data shows around 17 percent of Britons are self-employed.One in seven Britons is a member of a gym, according to a 2017 industry survey; Acxiom reckons there's a 47.5 percent chance that I am interested in belonging to a gym.
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