Data broker sells list of rape victim’s names to pharmaceutical companies

By John Vibes | December 20, 2013 | 1:00am EST

A marketing company has stopped selling lists of rape victim’s names after the list was revealed in a recent report.

Medbase200 screenshot
Medbase200 screenshot

WASHINGTON (INTELLIHUB) — A marketing company based out of Lake Forrest, Illinois called Medbase200 was busted selling lists of rape and domestic violence victims to pharmaceutical companies.  According to a recent report the company was also caught selling names of HIV/AIDS patients, alcoholics, and “peer pressure sufferers”.  The lists were reportedly selling for $79 for 1,000 names.

The victim list was first disclosed by Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, at a Senate hearing Wednesday about the data-broker industry, The Wall Street Journal reported.[1]

“Lists reveal information that would surprise most people. Data brokers sell lists of people suffering from mental health diseases, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hundreds of other illnesses,” said Dixon. “Data brokers sell lists of people who live in or near trailer parks so that these undesirable consumers can be targeted for suppression. Data brokers sell lists of people who are late on payments, often to those who make predatory offers to those in financial trouble. Data brokers sell lists of people who are impulse buyers or ‘eager senior buyers.’ All in all, there are millions of lists.”[2]

In an interview, Integrated Business Services President Sam Tartamella initially denied that his company maintained or sold databases of rape victims. After the Journal provided him a link to the “rape sufferers” page, he said he would remove it from Medbase200′s website. 

In an email conversation with The Wall Street Journal, Tartamella said the company had never maintained an actual list of rape victims. “No one has ever leased, rented or otherwise acquired such a file from our firm, ever,” he said.

He said a “hypothetical list of health conditions/ailments was used as a hypothetical” file for an internal test. “Apparently, that ‘test’ datacard was never removed after the website went live,” he wrote.

Tartamella said he was combing through his company’s website to ensure “that other errors are not present.”

Before the lists were taken down, the description on the website read:

“These rape sufferers are family members who have reported, or have been identified as individuals affected by specific illnesses, conditions or ailments relating to rape. Medbase200 is the owner of this list. Select from families affected by over 500 different ailments, or who are consumers of over 200 different Rx medications. Lists can be further selected on the basis of lifestyle, ethnicity, geo, gender, and much more. Inquire today for more information.”

 The Senate hearing on the topic was obviously dedicated to passing more laws, which would do nothing but give the government more power.  There is no greater violator of privacy and individual rights than the governments of the world, so it is silly to think that they can protect our privacy from corporations.  However, this situation does shed light on some legitimate concerns about the data business and raises some serious questions about information privacy.

 

Sources:

[1] Data Broker Removes Rape-Victims List After Journal Inquiry – WSJ

[2] Data Broker Was Selling Lists Of Rape Victims, Alcoholics, and ‘Erectile Dysfunction Sufferers’ –Forbes

 

Writer Bio:

VibesJG Vibes is an Intellihub.com investigative journalist, staff writer and editor. He is also the author of “Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance”, an 87 chapter e-book and is an artist with an established record label. Find him on his Facebook.
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