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What is Data Mining?
Although data mining is a relatively new term, the technology is not. Businesses have used
computer programs to sift through volumes of supermarket scanner data and analyse the
market for years. However, continuous improvements in computer processing power, disk
storage, and statistical software have radically increased the accurateness of analysis. This is
how your Fly Buys card is matched with the online store. If you shop regularly at a large
supermarket and use your Fly Buys card, then decide to use their online service, it actually
shows you what you have been buying. This is supposed to assist you with your online
purchasing, it actually makes up a favourites list for you….very scary stuff.
Data mining" may lead to another process called "Weblining."
Weblining is a process by which companies will grade each individual and base decisions
about them solely in regard to the information they buy from companies. This can lead to
different classes of individuals which will receive different offers from companies. Health
insurance, higher education, employment, and financing could all be decided before you ever
get in contact with an insurance agency, school, potential employer or lender, all based upon
the information collected and compared by information aggregators.
The lack of transparency and the size of legally collected data on consumers is not the only
concern as these data brokerage companies are awfully attractive to cyber hackers. It is
terribly unsettling to know that a business has such intimate particulars about you and your
habits. Businesses generally take action to encrypt and protect your data to lessen the risk
should any information reach unintended parties but what happens if there is a Data Breach?
A cyber hacker who manages to successfully hack into a data brokerage firm, could
potentially have personal data on hundreds of millions of people.
With Congress struggling to pass any meaningful cybersecurity laws regarding protecting or
collecting personal information from online consumers, it seems that, for now, the individual
consumer can only hope his or her information profile doesn't exclude them from
opportunities in life or end up in the hands of a criminal.
"What is Information Aggregation and Why Should You Care?" was written by Sam
Imandoust, Esq. He serves as a legal analyst for the Identity Theft Resource Center. We
welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to and linking back
to ITRC Blog.