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Feel like you're being watched? It's because YOU ARE....

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NSA, Google, Facebook and formerly Nordstrom are watching you

'Big Data' is watching you
July 16, 2013 12:05 am

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By Ken Dilanian / Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON --- Not long before headlines exposed National Security Agency programs that secretly collect records of Americans' phone calls, another surveillance system got far less attention: Nordstrom, the department store chain, acknowledged it was tracking customers without their knowledge in 17 stores.

Nordstrom had hired a company to log a unique number emitted by shoppers' smartphones, which automatically connected to Wi-Fi systems as they moved through the stores. Shortly after a Dallas TV station broke the story in May, Nordstrom announced it was discontinuing the program.

The company that sold the tracking service, Euclid Analytics, has tracked 50 million devices in 4,000 locations for 100 corporate and other customers, its founder has said. Shoppers are free to opt out, but the process is complex -- they must enter their phone's media access control address, known as a MAC address, on Euclid's website.

Self-confessed leaker Edward Snowden's disclosures about domestic spying by the NSA have sparked a broad debate about whether the government is using sophisticated surveillance and data-mining techniques on its own citizens without sufficient oversight.

PG graphic: How they track you
(Click image for larger version)

But information gathered and exploited by Internet giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook -- and traded by lesser-known data brokers such as Datalogix and Acxiom -- can be more revealing than what the NSA can legally collect on most Americans. Few consumers understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the information is being used.

"We normally think of the NSA as being far ahead of corporate America, but I'm not so sure they are that far ahead anymore," said Mark Herschberg, chief technology officer at Madison Logic, a New York-based company that provides data for advertisers.

"There are thousands of companies out there collecting information on customers, and together they are really aggregating quite a bit of data," he added. "Google is reading through your email. Amazon is looking at not just what you buy, but what you shop for."

The collection and analysis of consumer information in bulk is enabled by what has been dubbed the "Big Data" revolution -- the combination of digitization, cheap storage, robust computing power and sophisticated analytics that allows experts to find correlations in ever-expanding pools of data.

Most Americans emit a stream of personal digital exhaust -- what they search for, what they buy, who they communicate with, where they are -- that is captured and exploited in a largely unregulated fashion. The information can be used by identity thieves, insurance companies, prospective employers or opponents in a civil lawsuit.

"How do I express my privacy requirements? Increasingly, it means I have shut off my phone and become a digital hermit," said Ian Glazer, a vice president at Gartner Inc., an information technology research and advisory company.

In addition to privacy threats, he said, "there is a fundamental problem with fairness, in the sense that I am generating all this data about me through my devices, and these organizations are harvesting it and making a profit off it."

Google says it uses algorithms, not humans, to mine the content of Gmail messages. Thus if someone sends a digital note about an upcoming trip, the computer may generate an ad for an airline or hotel.

Amazon and other companies track online shoppers and display ads for items their customers perused as they browse other websites. Retailer Target was able to use purchasing patterns to figure out when women were pregnant and target ads accordingly.

Smartphones double as tracking devices, sending periodic signals that disclose their locations. Though the NSA says it does not collect that information about Americans, numerous popular applications, including the game "Angry Birds" and Yelp, do so for their developers, using precise coordinates from cell towers and GPS systems. Some sell the data to third parties.

Mobile carriers, including Verizon Wireless, have begun selling aggregate location data. Verizon, on its website, promises advertisers "detailed demographics; location analysis to determine where your target consumer segment lives and works; and foot-and-mobile traffic habits," though not names or phone numbers.

Officials at Euclid, the company that helped Nordstrom track its customers, declined to comment.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/nsa-google-facebook-and-formerly-nordstrom-are-watching-you-695592/#ixzz2ZDA24AWV

by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 8:34 AM
Replies (11-20):
yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM

 I have started turning my phone off a lot...I never use the wi-fi for it.  I am thinking about going to the disposables when my contract runs out.

 

furbabymum
by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:39 AM
1 mom liked this

 Oh please. We voluntarily give out our info. How many people have cards for stores, aka shopper reward cards. They al have them, Safeway, King Soopers, Kmart, Sears, Maurices, Etc Etc.

survivorinohio
by René on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Quoting Raintree:

I recently left Facebook. I thought I'd be all freaked out and missing it and... Meh.
I miss you :(

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


enlightened_24
by Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Target will not let you on their site unless it can track you. We have a ghost program that keeps everything we do 'private' and if its on we cannot go to certain sites. They claim most sites use it for marketing purposes and some even send you coupons for what you shop for. I dont do anything online I wouldnt have my parents or kids see (except maybe CM LOL)

la_bella_vita
by Bella on Jul. 16, 2013 at 10:47 AM

 I'm not surprised at all.

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM
1 mom liked this

Using a rewards card is voluntary. Having a store monitor your phone while it's on their property via WiFi is not. Once they are on your phone, they can have access to a lot more than your shopping habits. The fact that some of you don't get that is alarming. You're giving them access to all your contacts and any email accounts you have on your phone. They can see all of that. It's not just going "oh look, so and so is here because I detect their phone is on." They can do much more than that. 

Quoting furbabymum:

 Oh please. We voluntarily give out our info. How many people have cards for stores, aka shopper reward cards. They al have them, Safeway, King Soopers, Kmart, Sears, Maurices, Etc Etc.


furbabymum
by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:18 AM

 I suppose to people who have a lot of info on their phone it would be alarming. I don't. I don't have bank accounts, email accounts, or even games on my phone. I just text and take pictures.

I think if stores are doing this they should have to post a sign saying they are.

Quoting cjsbmom:

Using a rewards card is voluntary. Having a store monitor your phone while it's on their property via WiFi is not. Once they are on your phone, they can have access to a lot more than your shopping habits. The fact that some of you don't get that is alarming. You're giving them access to all your contacts and any email accounts you have on your phone. They can see all of that. It's not just going "oh look, so and so is here because I detect their phone is on." They can do much more than that. 

Quoting furbabymum:

 Oh please. We voluntarily give out our info. How many people have cards for stores, aka shopper reward cards. They al have them, Safeway, King Soopers, Kmart, Sears, Maurices, Etc Etc.


 

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:21 AM
1 mom liked this

My phone is my "work" phone, so it has all of my clients' information on there, all of my email accounts are synced to it, etc. The only thing I've never done on it is accessed online banking or my credit cards and I never will, because I know it's not secure enough for that. 

And I agree, stores that do this should have to post signs warning customers they are doing it, just like they have to notify you that they are using closed circuit TVs to monitor you while on their premises. 

Quoting furbabymum:

 I suppose to people who have a lot of info on their phone it would be alarming. I don't. I don't have bank accounts, email accounts, or even games on my phone. I just text and take pictures.

I think if stores are doing this they should have to post a sign saying they are.

Quoting cjsbmom:

Using a rewards card is voluntary. Having a store monitor your phone while it's on their property via WiFi is not. Once they are on your phone, they can have access to a lot more than your shopping habits. The fact that some of you don't get that is alarming. You're giving them access to all your contacts and any email accounts you have on your phone. They can see all of that. It's not just going "oh look, so and so is here because I detect their phone is on." They can do much more than that. 

Quoting furbabymum:

 Oh please. We voluntarily give out our info. How many people have cards for stores, aka shopper reward cards. They al have them, Safeway, King Soopers, Kmart, Sears, Maurices, Etc Etc.


 


TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM
That is a Constitutional abomination. I will leave my phone outside now
housewifehell
by on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM
1 mom liked this

I say its time for some REAL REALITY TV, lets get our government officials on camera every second of the day, if they want to know what we are doing I think its high time they should be scrutinized for EVERY action EVERY phone call EVERY word they utter!  This stuff pisses me off to no end!

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