Posted Monday, March 29, 2010
According to the chief of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, the way our habits are tracked online by marketers is akin to someone following you around in the mall, keeping track of every consumer choice you make, from the jeans you buy to how you pay for them and whether you stopped for a cinnabon or starbucks along the way. And, right now, nobody really knows what those marketers are doing with that information and to whom they're selling it. Monday morning at 9, join Plain Dealer Consumer Affairs columnist Sheryl Harris and guests for a conversation about privacy, marketing and regulatin in the digital age.
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What tools can a user use to protect themselves from this sort of “spying”? I know that Firefox has an option to “Start Private Browsing”. Is this sort of thing effective?
store loyalty cards are a pet peeve of mine. I don’t have one and generally avoid stores that promote them. while privacy was my original concern with them, I am also very annoyed at the “discount” price compared to the “regular” price. the regular price is usually a penalty, while the discount often matches prices available at the competition with no data gathering loyalty card required. additionally, a grocer in my neighborhood often conceals the “penalty price” by only posting the loyalty discount as a “weekly special.” I’ve gotten some ugly surprises at the cashier when the penalty price was charged. I see these issues as related, because if the retailer is willing to be deceitful over the price of celery, they probably are willing to misuse the data they collect.
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