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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 (21-30):
Raintree
by Ruby Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:52 PM
1 mom liked this
Same back! I think I need to come back and bump more people off my list. Last November, I shrunk it by 100- I think I need to bump about 200 more..

Not you, though!


Quoting survivorinohio:

Quoting Raintree:

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


I miss you :(
jllcali
by Jane on Jul. 16, 2013 at 12:59 PM
1 mom liked this
If I'm ever in a nordstrom, I'm going to do a search for an extra large dildo and peanut butter, just to see what coupons they send me.
elkmomma
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I think it's funny that people are only now pissed off.  Where was your anger / concern 20+ years ago when the "crazy" conspiracy theorists were telling you all about this crap?  All you did was ignore them and call them names.  You've been warned about it for years, so no you have no business being pissed about it now.  (you in general terms)

Nicoleb9
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 1:11 PM
My tin foil hat becomes more beautiful by the day.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jul. 16, 2013 at 1:16 PM

This is not new, and it's not news.

The only part of this that I find at all appalling is a massive waste of money involved in having anyone do this pointless 'work.'

JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Things have been tracked the entire time. This is not only knew, its common knowledge to anyone that pays attention and doesn't have their head in the sand.  People give out their data at an alarming rate both online and in person. Ever stop to think if a site or store needs your social? Well you should. 

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 16, 2013 at 1:53 PM


Quoting JanetMonroe1991:

Things have been tracked the entire time. This is not only knew, its common knowledge to anyone that pays attention and doesn't have their head in the sand.  People give out their data at an alarming rate both online and in person. Ever stop to think if a site or store needs your social? Well you should. 

I don't give out my social in situations like that. No one should. But sadly, people do.

JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Quoting cjsbmom:


Quoting JanetMonroe1991:

Things have been tracked the entire time. This is not only knew, its common knowledge to anyone that pays attention and doesn't have their head in the sand.  People give out their data at an alarming rate both online and in person. Ever stop to think if a site or store needs your social? Well you should. 

I don't give out my social in situations like that. No one should. But sadly, people do.


I don't either, but people do and then they wonder how their ID got stolen.
survivorinohio
by René on Jul. 16, 2013 at 2:05 PM


Quoting JanetMonroe1991:

Things have been tracked the entire time. This is not only knew, its common knowledge to anyone that pays attention and doesn't have their head in the sand.  People give out their data at an alarming rate both online and in person. Ever stop to think if a site or store needs your social? Well you should. 

I have only been asked a social number for a credit account I hold.  In any other circumstance I would never provide it.

I think I am going to use a private window for all my shopping window or otherwise though.

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


stormcris
by Christy on Jul. 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM

And all the hack secrets are bought by all the governments around the world...

That amuses me most.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/07/14/Hackers-market-to-countries-adversaries/UPI-99461373831860/

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