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Data mining creates sick lists: Autism for sale

Lana Bandoim's picture

A disturbing trend has been noted among data mining companies that affects people with autism and other conditions. Information is being collected to create sick lists that include people’s names, addresses and other data. These lists are being used in ways that may make people angry.


Data mining is a growing industry that collects information on people and sells it to marketers, companies, brands and others. There are large databases filled with personal details about millions of people, and the latest trend involves sick lists. The data mining companies are collecting specific health information about people from a variety of sources.

Experts believe the data miners use a combination of sources to put together their databases. Online activity is a major resource because of social media, public forums, groups, websites and other sites. A recent news report indicates that the lists are occasionally wrong and connect people to medical conditions they do not have. Unfortunately, there are no laws that would allow people to demand information about them be changed in the databases.

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The sick lists have specific categories that include people with autism. Many families are probably not aware they are on these types of lists, and marketers do not contact every person in a database. However, some autistic people and their families have occasionally wondered about brochures for a specific program or marketing phone calls related to their condition.

It is important to proceed with caution if you are posting anything online and remember that data mining can occur at any time. These companies are collecting names, emails, addresses, phone numbers, lifestyle information and other data that identifies people while linking them to a medical condition. The Internet should not be the only concern because even purchasing something at a store could end with your name on a mailing list or database.

Read more about autism:
Medicaid coverage of autism services ordered by CMS
Police handcuff autistic boy and force him to stay on top of squad car trunk

Image: Dvortygirl/Wikimedia Commons