NSA phone logs, identity thefts, online tracking, data Relevant Products/Services brokerages. The digital age has brought with it a huge data trail for one's identity and behavior, and now a Federal Trade Commission member has proposed a new initiative to "Reclaim Your Name."

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill has recommended that the initiative allow consumers to access data held on them by data brokers and others. Data brokerages store a variety of data points on individuals, such as ethnicity, shopping patterns, estimated income, location, magazine subscriptions and more, which are correlated to create profiles that marketers -- and, increasingly, political campaigns -- can use to identify new customers or potential supporters.

In theory, the data brokerages allow individuals to opt out of their databases, but doing so is not user friendly or easy. In Brill's proposal, some compliance by data brokers would be voluntary, but there would also be new legislation to require that brokers "provide notice, access, and correction rights to consumers scaled to the sensitivity and use of the data." Additionally, there have been investigations in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate about common practices by data brokers.

Getting to Know You

Brill's proposed "Reclaim Your Name" campaign would allow users to see what information brokers are collecting about them and how it is being used, allow an easier way to opt out, and provide a path for correcting errors that could be used, for instance, to deny credit or get a job. The proposal was made Wednesday by Brill at a speech to the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

As Brill noted in the speech, cookies track us online, and "we tell TripAdvisor our travel plans, open our calendars to Google Now, and post our birthdays on Facebook." In addition, pictures of our newborn babies are posted on Instagram, questions about intimate medical conditions are asked on WebMD, diet sites know what we eat and how long we exercised, Google Maps and Foursquare know where we go, dating sites know the kind of person we're looking for, and so on.

Of course, that kind of data about us is only the first wave on the traditional Internet. As the Internet of Things comes more fully to life, there's data on us about where we pay to park our cars or how often we change our thermostat, and, through CCTV on the streets and fast-improving facial recognition programs, there's video of us as we walk around town.

'E-Score' Report

As Brill points out, the accumulation of data is affecting our lives in ways that are not simply related to whether we pay our credit cards on time. Some new lending institutions, for instance, are bypassing traditional credit reports in favor of Big Data analyses derived from our trail on social networks and other online sources.

A company called eBureau prepares what Brill described as "credit scores on steroids," using data from one's occupation, salary, spending on luxury items or pet food, all processed through a proprietary algorithm to produce an "e-score" that is used by some businesses to determine whether goods and services will be offered, and on what terms.