Several years ago, the Department of Defense began developing a program called Total Information Awareness, a massive data mining project analyzing personal information on every citizen of the United States. After a series of blistering op-eds and strong negative public reaction, the Senate voted to stop all funding for the program. Continue Reading
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There is still more interesting grist from the national telephone survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The report has an extensive discussion of price discrimination – offering different prices for the same product or service to different customers based on behavioral profiling.
This practice is already happening. Supermarket discount cards are an example of price discrimination. The report notes: “[B]eing a loyal customer doesn’t automatically mean getting the lowest prices. Computer analyses of shopping histories might determine that a person’s allegiance to some products means he or she would buy them even without the discounts, or with smaller discounts than others might get for the same items at the same time.”