Steve Lohr tells us that the US Federal trade Commission issued a report on data brokers and consumer profiling. “One data broker in the report, for example, had 3,000 data categories for nearly every American consumer. Data brokers analyze information collected about consumers to make automated assumptions about them, the report said. While the conclusions may determine the products and services offered to a person, the report said, the conclusions can be mistaken. Consumers are placed in data-driven social and demographic groups for marketing purposes with labels like “financially challenged,” “diabetes interest” and “smoker in household,” the report said. The report explains how these software-generated groupings could affect a person. It said a person assumed to be a “biker enthusiast” might get special offers from the local motorcycle shop. But that same person might also have to pay higher fees for life insurance because insurers infer that person engages in risky behavior.”

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