Every time you use the internet, you leave a huge trail of information in your wake–and it’s not just your browser history full of cat videos. Companies called data brokers are constantly collecting a thousand little nuggets of information behind you, adding them up into a profile of you, and selling the profiles for lots of money. Data brokers still move in mysterious ways, leaving unanswered questions: how are they getting their data? Who’s buying it? And, perhaps most importantly: can you, the consumer, do anything about it? [More]
Perhaps the scariest part of data mining is the not knowing: What do these data brokers have on me? How do they see me in terms of marketing prey? Where does it all come from? Is anyone judging my predilection for impulse buys of cheesy romance e-books? Which is why it’s somewhat surprising that one company, Acxiom, is pulling back the curtain to show people not only some of what it has on them, but also a general idea of where that info came from. [More]
Electronic medical records are kind of cool: they help your doctors beam your prescription records back and forth from pharmacies and are supposed to save everyone money and time. What you may not realize, though, is that digital records are easy to share, and what’s easy to share is easy to sell. Somewhere, your most private medical data is probably for sale. [More]
Far from sitting on his laurels as an outgoing Congressman, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia is gearing up to go out with a blaze of consumer advocacy. He’s set to retire at the end of next year after championing consumers during his career, but before then will be working on the “Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013,” a bill he introduced yesterday. [More]
In 2007, the state of Vermont passed a law forbidding the data mining of prescription drug records (i.e., which drugs are being prescribed and how frequently) for marketing purposes. But earlier today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Vermont law interferes with drug makers’ right to free speech. [More]
Everything from what magazines you buy to how much television you watch could be used by insurance companies to determine whether you’re a risky client or not, and when you might die. [More]
Tim tried to use a Digital TV coupon at a Philadelphia Radio Shack and was told that he had to provide his name and address in order to redeem it, as per government regulations. Strike out “government” and replace with “imaginary” and you’re closer to the truth. Hmm, did this Radio Shack employee just break the law?
Feel wary about giving applications access to your Facebook page? Worried one of those quizzes or games might be maliciously harvesting your data? You were right to worry. The BBC had the same idea, so they decided to write a program to do just that. And it worked. Not only did it steal the data of Facebook users who installed the application, it also victimized all of their “friends.”
According to the Washington Post, the TSA is compiling extensive traveler records that can track passenger reading preferences. The Automated Targeting System is ostensibly designed to help officials ferret out terrorists; citizens who recently asked the government for records of their travel found that the databases also contains: “a description of a book on marijuana that one of them carried and small flashlights bearing the symbol of a marijuana leaf.” Our government’s long maw even reaches abroad to gather information on flights that don’t brush against U.S. airspace.
Ann Harrison, the communications director for a technology firm in Silicon Valley who was among those who obtained their personal files and provided them to The Post, said she was taken aback to see that her dossier contained data on her race and on a European flight that did not begin or end in the United States or connect to a U.S.-bound flight.
The AMA sells information about what your doctor is prescribing says an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to the Washington Post, the United States and the European Union have agreed to compile and share a database of information on consumers who travel on aircrafts between the two continents.
According to Greg Linden, founder of Findory and search industry professional, the AOL subdivision for releasing the user search histories has folded.
The AOL company researcher who released the data is one Abdur Chowdhury, pictured at right, looking like a douche.
The AOL user search queries data leaked on the internet were apparently posted by a technician who uploaded the data without vetting it through in-house privacy department, company spokesman Andrew Weinstein told WP.
A boon for search engine researches quickly tumbled into a privacy snafu as AOL released search query results for 650,000+ users. AOL expression contrition and dismay in the quotes provided by spokesman Andrew Weinstein who said:
Here’s another AOL user who should definitely be manacled to a rusty pole and beaten with barb wire. Dirty thoughts! Dirty! Dirty!