Tag: Data-Mining and Database Marketing

How Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Expose New York’s Digital Divide

When New York City announced in 2014 that a private company would replace pay phones with thousands of kiosks offering free Wi-Fi, Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “a critical step toward a more equal, open, and connected city.” Five years later, many New Yorkers regard the nine-and-a-half-foot panels as little more than miniature billboards […]

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We No Longer Expect Privacy. You Can Change That.

Since the start of the Privacy Project, the most common response I have gotten from readers is a request for some kind of solution. They’re slightly freaked out and hoping for tips to shore up their digital hygiene or for a guide that might help them navigate the internet without giving away their personal data. […]

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What to Consider Before Trading Your Health Data for Cash

After I signed up for my insurance plan, I got an email with a link to a “wellness program” that, if I traded some health data — such as steps from a pedometer or smartwatch exercise data — could earn me a small monthly payout and some gift cards. But the second I logged in, […]

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One Man Can Bring Equifax to Justice (and Get You Your Money)

On Dec. 19, District Judge Thomas Thrash of Atlanta will hold a final approval hearing for the Equifax 2017 data breach settlement. There’s a lot at stake. If the settlement is approved, the $31 million pool earmarked for claims will be paid out to some victims. Others will get free credit monitoring (because the cash […]

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They See You When You’re Shopping

For months you’ve been casing a Gucci shoulder bag online, adding it to your virtual cart, only to close the tab before buying it. One weekend, lounging in your pajamas, you decide to go for it, and back you go to the Gucci website. In an office building on the waterfront in Jersey City, N.J., […]

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Google to Limit Targeting of Political Ads

Google on Wednesday said it would restrict how precisely political advertisers can target an audience on the company’s online services. Political campaigns will be able to aim election advertisements at people based on their age, gender or location. However, the ads can no longer be directed to specific audiences based on their public voter records […]

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We Hate Data Collection. That Doesn’t Mean We Can Stop It.

We’re being watched. We know we’re being watched, and we don’t think the watchers have our best interests at heart. They try to mollify us, arguing that we’re being watched for our own good and that in fact we’re the ones in charge of the scale and scope of all the watching, but deep down […]

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How to Be a Whistle-Blower

This article is part of a limited-run newsletter. You can sign up here. Last week, at a conference in Portugal, I met John Napier Tye. He is a former State Department employee, a whistle-blower and a co-founder of Whistleblower Aid, a nonprofit law firm that represents individuals trying to expose wrongdoing. As you may have […]

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With ‘Shadow Stalker,’ Lynn Hershman Leeson Tackles Internet Surveillance

This article is part of our continuing Fast Forward series, which examines technological, economic, social and cultural shifts that happen as businesses evolve. SAN FRANCISCO — “I found my voice through technology,” the artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson is saying, sitting in an old-world bar here, wearing a long jacket with quotes from French […]

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Artificial Intelligence Is Too Important to Leave to Google and Facebook Alone

Americans don’t have to be beholden to the tech Goliaths to get the benefits of artificial intelligence. An alternative possibility is for government to provide the infrastructure needed for a technological future — through a public option for artificial intelligence. Big tech companies have an extraordinary amount of data about how we behave, largely because […]

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California Sues Facebook for Documents as State Reveals Privacy Investigation

WASHINGTON — California’s attorney general on Wednesday said he was conducting an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices and accused it of failing to cooperate with the inquiry, in the company’s latest fight over how it treats user information. In a lawsuit filed by the attorney general, Xavier Becerra, the state said that over an 18-month […]

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The Government Protects Our Food and Cars. Why Not Our Data?

After Apple discovered in June that certain MacBook laptops could overheat, posing a fire hazard, the Consumer Product Safety Commission quickly issued a warning, along with information about consumer burns and smoke inhalation. But after Apple learned that its FaceTime video chat app was enabling consumers to listen in on the conversations of people they […]

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The Real Reason Facebook Won’t Fact-Check Political Ads

When Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, announced on Wednesday that Twitter would no longer host political advertisements, he scored points with those who lament the ways social media platforms have polluted political culture. At Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg responded by reaffirming that his company would continue to distribute political ads without fact-checking them. “In a democracy, […]

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Here’s a Way Forward on Facial Recognition

A furious debate is underway over the use of facial recognition technology for law enforcement purposes. San Francisco and a few other communities have banned their police departments from using it. Detroit is among other cities wrestling with the question. At the same time, law enforcement agencies say that software that analyzes human faces to […]

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They Know What You Watched Last Night

A spate of streaming services are on their way from major tech and entertainment companies, promising viewers a trove of binge-worthy new shows and movies. There’s something for advertisers, too: your personal data. Recent deals involving the media conglomerate AT&T, the streaming device seller Roku, the advertising giant Publicis and other companies have expanded the […]

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Data for the Public Good

These days, the very word “data” elicits fear and suspicion in many of us — and with good reason. DNA-testing companies are sharing genetic information with the government. A firm hired by the Trump campaign gained access to the private information of 50 million Facebook users. Hotels, hospitals, and a consumer credit reporting agency have […]

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Trump Is Tracking Your Phone

This article is part of a limited-run newsletter. You can sign up here. Privacy may not be a policy issue for most of the 2020 presidential candidates, but their campaigns will depend on intrusive tracking. Last week, my Opinion colleague Thomas Edsall laid out how “Trump is winning the online war,” and it got me […]

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Congress Must Regulate the Location Data Industry

In the right hands, location data can be a force for good. It can provide publishers and app developers with advertising revenue so consumers can access free services and information. It can inform city planning, help ride-sharing users reach their destinations, guide travelers to great local spots, reassure parents their children are safely on their […]

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Trump Is Winning the Online War

For all his negative poll numbers and impeachment-related liabilities, President Trump has a decisive advantage on one key election battleground: the digital campaign. Under the management of Brad Parscale, the Trump re-election machine has devoted millions more than any individual Democrat to increasingly sophisticated microtargeting techniques. The accompanying chart, compiled by the Wesleyan Media Project, […]

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We Talked to Andrew Yang. Here’s How He’d Fix the Internet.

This article is part of a limited-run newsletter. You can sign up here. This week’s Privacy Project newsletter is a pre-debate conversation with the former entrepreneur and current presidential candidate Andrew Yang. I wanted to speak to Yang since he’s the only candidate to address data privacy as a campaign policy issue. He’s a proponent […]

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10 Tips to Avoid Leaving Tracks Around the Internet

Google and Facebook collect information about us and then sell that data to advertisers. Websites deposit invisible “cookies” onto our computers and then record where we go online. Even our own government has been known to track us. When it comes to digital privacy, it’s easy to feel hopeless. We’re mere mortals! We’re minuscule molecules […]

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