Acxiom's Scott Howe on Web Tracking, AboutTheData.com and the NSA

Acxiom Corp. CEO Scott Howe has given an interview to Direct Marketing News about a host of issues concerning the publicly traded data mining firm, including its AboutTheData.com website and recent revelations about NSA spying.

The full interview is available here and is a worth the read, but I've included this snippet below about AboutTheData.com, the site Acxiom launched late last summer that allowed people to see what personal information Acxiom had collected about them.

In the segment below, Howe sheds a little more light on Acxiom's motivations for launching the site, including how the site was branded. The question is in bold and Howe's answer follows:

Is AboutTheData.com the first step in creating that relationship between consumers and their data?

Quite frankly, what we've been talking about isn't the intent of why we did it. We did it because we believe it's the right thing to do. How can we work in an industry that prides itself in connecting people to businesses and vice versa and not have the voices of those people be heard? It's like being a date matchmaker and not knowing who you're setting up on dates. Ethically, it was the right thing to do to give people more visibility and control over the data that's collected about them.

Do we see an evolutionary path for AboutTheData? Absolutely. One reason we didn't brand it as Acxiom: We took a page out of what the credit bureaus did [which have unfamiliar brand names]. They created FreeCreditReport.com.

To your more immediate question: Is this a first step? We still have [AboutTheData] branded as a beta so in the spirit of full disclosure, it's more of a first half-step.

Under Scott Howe, Acxiom has moved deeper into online data collection, including so-called "big data." And he's been remaking the company in other ways that are still unfolding. Last week, the firm said it plans to cut its annual cost base "between $20 million and $30 million over the next 6 to 12 months."