Chris Larsen may seem like an unlikely privacy advocate. But then, as the CEO of online lending firm E-Loan, Larsen has seen the murky underworld of personal data collection. As a player in a business that thrives on information, Larsen knows how easy it would be to use a consumer’s credit score to manipulate the auto insurance rate the person pays or to track a consumer’s buying trends to concoct a risk profile that could be used to justify a less-favorable mortgage rate.
“Profiling is fast getting to the point where it crosses the line of efficiency in business to the dark side,” says Larsen. “We’re going to see a technology train wreck unless we can get it under control.”
Larsen has a proposal would require financial institutions to get explicit consent from consumers before selling or sharing their personal information with another company or even a sister subsidiary. Since May, Larsen, Speier, and a coalition of consumer groups, privacy advocates, and senior citizens have collected in excess of 400,000 signatures — more than the 373,000 required to put the measure on next year’s ballot.