Money Minute: FTC Advocates For More Light on Data Miners

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Who knows more about you than anyone else? The answer may be scary.

The Federal Trade Commission wants Congress to pass a bill that would require data mining companies to reveal more information about themselves, and to let consumers have better access to the data they've collected. These companies compile vast amounts of data about individuals -- what we buy, where we go and what we search for -- and sell it for various marketing purposes. The FTC says the extent of consumer profiling today means "data brokers often know as much -- or even more -- about us than our family and friends."

If you've stayed in a hotel recently, you've probably seen the signs encouraging guests to reuse their towels. Well, the Los Angeles Times reports a new study finds that about half us do so in an effort to be environmentally friendly and another 39 percent say they sometimes reuse towels. Business travelers and college students are most likely to do so, while families on vacation are least likely.

In addition to all of its other problems, Detroit needs to tear down 40,000 homes and other dilapidated buildings around the city. A White House task force report says more than 20 percent of the city's building are plagued by blight, and the cost of cleaning up the mess would be at least $850 million.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 69 points on Tuesday, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 51 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 11 points to another record high. The Dow starts the day just 40 points shy of its all-time best, but the S&P 500 is still 16 percent away from its 14-year-old record.

Lastly, Italy has found a way to boost its anemic economic growth. The country is overhauling the way it calculates its gross domestic product to include black market activities such as prostitution, illegal drug sales and arms trafficking. USA Today says this could add 1.3 points to GDP this year.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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