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Expert: Brokers sell lists of substance abusers, dementia patients

Dec. 19, 2013 at 3:47 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Marketers can buy lists of U.S. rape victims, alcohol and drug abusers, elderly victims of dementia and AIDS patients, a privacy expert says.

Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum, told a Senate hearing Wednesday lists are also available with sensitive information, CNN Money reported. They include the home addresses of police officers and the addresses of domestic violence shelters.

"Highly sensitive data are the frayed and ugly ends of the bell curve of lists, far from the center," she said. "This is where lawmakers can work to remove unsafe, unfair and overall just deplorable lists from circulation."

Current privacy laws cover the sharing of data when people are being evaluated for jobs, insurance, credit or housing, CNN said. Lists to be used for marketing are fair game.

Medical privacy laws do not extend to information obtained through other means than doctors.

Dixon said people on some of the lists she encounters could be put in harm's way. For example, she said, people with dementia could become targets for fraud and police officers and their families endangered by listing home addresses.

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