Turning data into dollars: Firms selling individuals' personal info for cash

A set of data on a person can be sold for several cents to a few dollars. One property data broker, for instance, is selling the full name and exact address of those living in any condominium for $1 to $5 each, depending on how easily available the d
A set of data on a person can be sold for several cents to a few dollars. One property data broker, for instance, is selling the full name and exact address of those living in any condominium for $1 to $5 each, depending on how easily available the data is.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

On the top floor of a nondescript building in Toa Payoh, an army of workers is busy mining your personal details. Some are on the phone, negotiating a price for bundles of people's personal information. Others are handing over documents with names and addresses to buyers in exchange for cash.

They are part of a cottage industry of at least half a dozen companies here making money from dealing in others' data - full names, home addresses and phone numbers - raising questions about whether what they do is legal.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 26, 2019, with the headline 'Turning data into dollars'. Print Edition | Subscribe