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This Comment discusses the potential and actual misuse of consumers' secret surveillance scores in e-commerce, employment, and housing situations, as evidenced in a 2019 FTC complaint. The calculation and use of these secret surveillance scores are currently unregulated. The Comment presents two main arguments: First, secret surveillance scores are equivalent to credit scores used in the financial credit reporting industry and should thus undergo similar regulation. Second, the collection of consumer data points to calculate secret surveillance scores highlights the need for broad, nationwide consumer digital data privacy legislation. The collection and use of secret surveillance scores are akin to the collection and use of credit scores in the financial credit reporting industry. Therefore, the secret surveillance scores should be regulated in a similar fashion by the same regulating bodies. Regulatory oversight will ensure protections for consumers from the consideration of sensitive demographic characteristics in score calculations. There also exist model digital data privacy laws that empower consumers to control the data points collected about them online. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act both serve as solid foundations for broader nation-wide legislation to protect consumer digital data information. The ideal solution would realize and implement both arguments to protect consumers in an emerging digital commercial industry.

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College of Law






Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Allison Piper Geber, Comment, Secret Surveillance Scores: Pay No Attention to What’s Behind the Curtain, 41 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 203 (2020).

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