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big data

With #ReclaimYourName, FTC Looks to Reel In Big Data Behaving Badly

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 7, 2014 10:55 AM

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi wasn't the only high-powered woman to make waves at the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival last week. One year post-Snowden and his NSA revelations, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill said in a chat that the "state of privacy is improving."

Brill said that awareness of consumers, the public and media has grown on both the government and commercial sides. Now that awareness will help consumers push back against a growing number of data brokers that collect vast amounts of data on hundreds of millions of consumers to resell or use in targeted marketing.

“Some data brokers have 3,000 data points on each consumer in the United States—they have it for just about every US consumer," Brill said, noting a recent study. "Three billion transactions per month put into profiles about consumers.”

According the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the privacy regulations that exist today don't often protect consumers from big data analytics. “Many notions of privacy rely on informed consent for the disclosure and use of an individual’s private data. However, big data means that data is a resource that can be used and reused, often in ways that were inconceivable at the time the data was collected.”Continue reading...

social media watch

Facebook's Sandberg Apologizes as Emotions Test Stirs Up Emotions

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 2, 2014 01:29 PM

Facebook’s signature blue face is turning red as the social network faces inquiries from Europe’s privacy regulators following its data scientists' experimental tweaking of the emotional content of posts in the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users.

When the news broke, Facebook initially stated that it was merely conducting user testing to see if emotions were contagious. In this case—they are, and the company’s actions have roused the ire of social media, prompted an apology from COO Sheryl Sandberg, and perhaps violated local privacy laws.

The European agencies involved include Ireland’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Information Commissioner’s Office of Britain. While it’s not clear where the one out of every 2,500 Facebook users experimented with reside, 80 percent of its total 1.2 billion users are based outside North America.

“We’re aware of this issue, and will be speaking to Facebook, as well as liaising with the Irish data protection authority, to learn more about the circumstances,” a spokesman for the British regulator commented. Sandberg today apologized while on a trip to India, in comments published by the Wall Street Journal.Continue reading...

social marketing

Facebook Opens Up Data Flood Gates for More Targeted Ads

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 12, 2014 05:19 PM

In a move that seems like Minority Report meets The Social Network, Facebook is giving back, to marketers that is, who are eager for more information to better target ads to the network’s 1.28 billion monthly users.

Now instead of just retargeting users, Facebook is turning the social platform into an open market for what it calls a "data-based democracy." 

"Facebook has transformed from a company that disdained ads, to one that said it could figure out a better way to sell ads than everyone else, to one that sells ads just like everyone else, but with a lot more scale and data," Recode commented. "It makes a ton of money doing it.” 

The company explained in a blog post that it primarily learns about interests "from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use.”

To assuage fears of an imminent privacy assault, the company is also releasing a tool that provides users with information about why they are seeing a particular ad—which the network calls a value-add for being able to be better plugged-in to users' lives in the real world.Continue reading...


Proximity Marketing Spreads as Safeway, Duane Reade Test iBeacon Tech

Posted by Dale Buss on May 30, 2014 11:02 AM

Long past are the days when privacy advocates merely worried that GM’s pioneering OnStar service could track your car wherever you traveled using GPS technology. Now, an increasing number of retailers and other brands are using new “beacon” technology to track consumers to within several inches of their locations in stores in order to push promotions and encourage spending. 

There are lots of other potentially disruptive uses to come from Apple’s iBeacon and similar technologies though as brand transparency and consumer privacy become top of mind.

Already, for instance, Safeway has been testing an iBeacon installation that automatically offers discounts to shoppers who have downloaded the supermarket chain’s “just for U” loyalty app and walk into the store—at the exact moment when consumers are ready to shop.

Similarly, Duane Reade, the Walgreen-owned East Coast US pharmacy chain, has launched a program to fit its New York stores with iBeacons that delivery weekly ads and coupons to opted-in smartphones. “iBeacons help remove some of the obstacles of engagement and facilitate customer interaction,” Tim MacCauley, mobile commerce director for Walgreen, told Adweek.Continue reading...

privacy alert

FTC Wants Data Brokers, Brands to Know Less About Who You Really Are

Posted by Dale Buss on May 28, 2014 02:43 PM

The US Federal Trade Commission wants to make it more difficult for marketing data brokers to collect and use online information to target American consumers. And that means, in turn, the federal agency wants to make it more difficult for brands to take advantage of today’s digital tools, like big data, to market to existing and potential customers.

The commission said that Congress should require data brokers to tell consumers more about how they collect and use information and give consumers more control over that personal data with tools that could view, suppress and filter that information.

“You may not know them, but data brokers know you,” Edith Ramirez, FTC chairwoman, said on a conference call, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. They have information “including our online and in-store purchases, our political and religious affiliations, our income and socioeconomioc status, and more.”

To reverse that trend, the FTC recommended that Congress should require creation of a website where the data brokers disclose the sources of data they collect about consumers and give consumers the opportunity to opt out of data collection, the Wall Street Journal said. Six companies studied by the FTC already do that, but officials said a single portal is required because of extensive information sharing among data brokers.Continue reading...

social media

Facebook Hopes to See Privacy Concerns Go Extinct with Pop-Up Push

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 23, 2014 11:02 AM

Facebook has long encouraged its users to post details of their life: baby pictures, wedding videos, birth dates, music and TV preferences. The brand's push to share inspires innovative new features to make it easier to share, while making the social network a data mine for marketers—and the focus of online privacy debates.  

Now Facebook is acknowledging that consumers might not want marketers—and strangers—to know every last bit of information about them. The company is "changing the default sharing setting for new users to friends only, instead of public," and making it simpler for its 1.28 billion users to change their privacy settings, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In addition, current users will be offered a new tool in the next few weeks that will allow them to review and change their current privacy settings.

"They've realized that if they want to continue to be successful, they have to focus on the user experience, and they've realized that users want some level of privacy," Shyam Patil, a vice president at Wedbush Equity Research, told the paper.Continue reading...

executive decision

Target Brand Hangs In Balance As Board Ousts CEO

Posted by Dale Buss on May 5, 2014 12:39 PM

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel fell—or was pushed onto—his sword today with a statement by the company's board of directors that he is leaving his post as president and CEO. But the recent diminution of the Target brand won't be as easily fixed as just showing the door to the 35-year veteran of the retailer.

Not long ago the brand carried a strongly innovative vibe that differentiated the discounter from Walmart and other dowdier retail marques, relying on a strong stable of private-label designers, clean store layouts and clever marketing to achieve the cut above its rivals. And results showed this success. Steinhafel, CEO of Target since 2008, presided over much of it.

But the massive data breach during the Christmas holidays last year rocked the company, badly denting its sales at the time, taking a bite out of its reputation, adding to shoppers' insecurity with the brand, and still plaguing Target as it faces a cost of $100 million for overhauling payment security.

The Target board, which stepped up its quarterly meetings to monthly in the wake of the data breach, felt that Steinhafel hadn't done enough to prevent such a debacle and hadn't done enough since it occurred to rectify things.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Visa, MasterCard Team Up to Push for Better Credit Data Protections

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 10, 2014 06:42 PM

As more information and new reports of data hacks continue to pour in, striking major retailers like Target, Neiman Marcus and others, the US is becoming increasingly aware of the many dangers associated with using debit and credit cards

MasterCard and Visa, whose businesses are eroded every time a consumer’s information is stolen, have decided to take action and are leading an effort to form a “cross-industry group to improve security for card transactions and press US retailers and banks to meet a 2015 deadline to adopt technology that would make it safer to pay with plastic,” Reuters reports.

Other members of the group include credit unions, banks, retailers, and industry trade associations, which are initially pushing for the implementation of technology already used in Europe and Asia—EMV cards—which “store information on computer chips rather than on traditional magnetic strips, making them harder to counterfeit,” according to the wire service.Continue reading...

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