Companies understand the delicate balance between collecting detailed information on shoppers — and revealing how much they know or what they do with it. Jon Iwata, an IBM vice president, talks about it as the continuum between privacy and convenience, similar to the government one between security and civil liberty. To understand companies’ reticence, note that few responded to my request for information…
Giant Eagle won’t say much about the information it collects on people who enroll in its rewards program to earn savings on food and fuel, but it knows who has a weakness for Goldfish crackers.
GNC can see when your New Year’s resolution ended. And Dick’s Sporting Goods has a pretty good idea who will return to its stores this spring to gear up for baseball or softball season.
Consumers willingly — if unwittingly — provide trillions of “data points” to companies about their purchases, intimate habits and even where a computer mouse hovers on a computer screen without clicking. Americans worried about government spying often have themselves to blame when it comes to private-sector monitoring, experts said.
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